Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Magnet Holder from Zepsus

Zepsus, the manufacturer of the now very popular magnetic switch, released a new magnet holder with a stronger magnet, attached to a 75cm line from a auto roll up unit.
You attach this magnet holder to your pant or jacket. The new magnet extends the activation range by 3 times which is good for large scale gliders, but also for F3X planes where there is no more need to locate the magnet very accurately to swithc on and off. A simple pass is enough, and this changes your life ! Personnaly, I use the Zepsus magnetic switch on all my competition plane. They work flawlessly for few years already, are very tiny, accept high current draw and are HV ready.

F3F French league, Esculliens

First competition of the french league 2015, 29 pilots, a new slope, replacing Laurac, 7 rounds in an afternoon, no round on sunday because of the rain. Frederic Hours won the competition with 3 or 4x 1000. I missed the podium after a buzzerman forgot to beep the end of my flight that was in 36 or 37 and a 1000. I got a reflight but did only a 44s. Very nice slope, and good day with friends.

Evolutive ranking and final result below:

Some pictures here where you can have an idea of this new slope, from the bottom included:

and a video of a run of JB Deguelle with hisTyphoon+ from RCRCM:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MPX Heron review

You can read my 5 pages review of the MPX Heron in the april issue of RC-Pilot International:

The Baudis Jedi in flight

Some pictures of the Baudis Jedi in flight:

And a video:

La Muela 2015, 20th Anniversary

20 years ago, I discovered for the first time this curious hill, flat at the top, accessible by car, with all wind orientation slopes. It was also my first international competition. I was flying an Ellipse 1 at that time. I won this 1995 edition so I won't forget.  It was also the opportunity to visit some part of this beautiful country, Toledo, Cordoba, Madrid, Aruanjuez, the Sierra Nevada. In 2015, it was therefore impossible to miss the 20th edition !

52 pilots engaged, from Germany, Norway, Switzerland, England, France and of course Spain. As it was early april, we could expect some low temperature and why not some some like in 2012 for example. But weather has been very good this time with some worries regarding the low wind predicted.

I arrived on Wednesday, driving from Barcelone. On the slope, the wind was blowing around 13m/s and already lots of competitors were practicing intensively. But with the rotation, it was possible to fly. The wind was from North so we were flying above the village of Alarilla.

The first day of the competition, flights started around 2pm as planned, but the wind that was still blowing in the early norning started to decrease a bit, with the sunshine. This made the conditions very variable, with thermal popping time to time. I got one in first round, Inaki got it in the second round. The rest of time the air was average with sometimes sink air. We managed 3 rounds the first afternoon, which was good considering the 52 pilots. Inaki was leading, followed by me and Jose Luis in 3rd.

The next day has been more complicate. Air was stable, with very little to no wind. We spend the major part of the day enjoying thermalling, looking at Storks, flying with bungee, electro glider. But we also succeeded to do one round, which was very important to validate the competition. At the end of the afternoon, we moved to the south slope where the breeze was trying to blow a bit, because of the sun, but we couldn't start another round.

The third and last day, forecast was better with some stronger wind from north again. We did 4 additional rounds before to stop, then cancel the round as the wind dropped. Again conditions were very variables. I got another big thermal and achieved the fastest time of the competition with a 33sXX . Matthieu Mervelet did another 33s in the last round. Inaki missed a great opportunity to take some points by ending his course at lap 8, before to realize his fault an re-enter the course. I did the same in the last round, finishing by a roll at lap 8, then heard my team mate shooting at me, re-enter the course and finish in 47s. Hopefully it was with no consequence on the result for me.
Following the interruption, the organisers tried hard to resume then launch another round, but the wind decided different. Finally the organiser decided to end this 20th edition.  I won the competition by a good margin over the second. Inaki after being 3rd, finally finished 2nd, followed by José Luis. Angel López is 4th and Arnaud Leger 5th. The points are decreasing very quickly after the first places. Full result can be seen here.

Overall it was a great competition (I couldn't say the contrary), the organisers once again did a great job, and extracted the maximum of flights possible from the conditions and time they had. I want to say a big thank you to the base judges (Piloneros) who stayed the whole week-end as buzzermen, Miguel Medina, and Miguel Torra, at the course direction, with the help of Iñigo Herrera.

This competition became a must over the year, in a unique place, with friendly people, and F3F mate from all over europe. Again a big thanks to the organizing team for this great competition !

See you next year for sure !

Organiser's web site here

Some video

The clip from Aubry Gabanon:

Jiri Hladky released these 5 videos about La Muela, giving a full coverage of the event. thanks Jiri !

1 part: training day and first race day warm-up
2 part: first race day
3 part: second race day
4 part: third race day part a
5 part: third race day part b

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Alula TREK ... same recipe but tastier !

When I first saw the picture of the Alula TREK, I found she looked like the Alula EVO, especially because the specs are very close if not similar. But in fact the Alula TREK is different on every aspect as we will discover:
  • Aerodynamic
  • Contruction / Assembly
  • Flying capabilities

What changed in the design ?

According to Michael Richter, DF (Dream Flight) worked on the following things with the new Alula TREK:

1) New airfoil: DF took what they learned from the EVO series and applied this to the new TREK series. They wanted to achieve trimmed flight with the elevons close to neutral position, at best glide. Both the evo designs always required a little trim to get it right. Basically, they took the best characteristics of the EVO airfoils and attempted to merge them, and at the same time thickness was reduced for the alula-TREK and camber was adjusted lightly as getting closer to the wingtip. This is very visible when comparing side by side the wing tip of the alula Evo and TREK, Alula TREK tip is thinner and the winglet is less prohiminent.

2) DF finessed the shapes and the thicknesses of the parts to reduce the volume so that they could use a little more dense foam for added durability. But this was a balance, since they did not want to affect the flight performance and style much. In the end these changes, in their opinion made the design better in flight too.

3) In addition to the airfoils, They made some slight changes to overall wing planform. Forward sweep angle was reduced slightly to reduce amount of noseweight, and the nose length was increased slightly for the same reason. The chord lengths are also a little different from root to tip than the EVO... a little less area at the tips, and with less wingtip up-turn. Elevon area has also been increased slightly, and the reduced hinge angle affects the flight and control slightly too.

4) A small ballast compartiment at the CoG location allows to put 20 gr to 30gr of lead, to improve the behavior in the wind.

Kit overview

Let's have a quick look to the kit now. The nicely decorated carbox is now rectangular and make the storage of the Alula TREK easier, without constraint that could deform the wing after a while. The two wings are finished with the carbon spar installed and also the control horn in place. Same for the interlocking system, which is light and very convenient, or the magnets.

The central part of the Alula TREK is also nearly finished and need only the radio installation. The plastic belly skid provide a nice reinforcement of the nose, and allows; like on the Libelle to have a canopy to easily access the radio. The canopy is maintained in place by 2 strong magnets.

The fin and the print on the "fuselage" make the fixation thighter so stronger. A pocket with accessories contains the control rods ready to use, the clevises (same as the Libelle), the interlocking screws some velcro adhesive. Another pocket contains the stickers and transparent stickers

In term of moulding quality, I found it much better, with no mark of injection nozzle, nice edges. Details are better respected and the surface finish is also nicer.

In oder to give you a better comparison, below are some picture showing side by side some details:

Now, there is a canopy on the TREK:

Here you can see the better moulding quality on the TREK

the interlocking system is simpler, lilghter and more efficient on the TREK

Below the junction between the wing and the fuselage with the smart lip that lock the wing in translation, excellent idea !

On the left, no remaining work !

30 minutes chrono

This is the time you will need to assemble the alula TREK,  as everything that was requiring some glue on the EVO is already in place on the TREK. On the wing, the only operation consists is puttng the interlocking screw in place, so let's say 20 seconds for the 2. On the fuselage, this is also quite fast.

If you have the recommended servo or the one sold in option by Dream Flight, then after installing the servo arm in place, at the neutral position, you just need to insert them in their servo print, route the wire throught the wing until the receiver location. a transparent sticker is applied on the servos to secure it's mounting.

The front of the radio compartiment is moulded for a 300mAh, NimH, 4 cells battery. The battery receives some velcro, before to be place in the fuselage. The receiver, a 4 channels from FrSky (D4R) with 2 antennas is located behind the battery. I placed the 2 antennas toward the nose, on each side of the battery. considering that the Alula won't fly far from tme, the range is not a real issue, and the fact to not respect the 90° between the 2 antennas is therefore not critical.

Not included in the 30 minutes, the painting. I used some paper tape for masking, and an orange acrylic spray to paint.

I needed 5grs in the nose on the side of the battery to obtain the market CoG. Finished, my alula TREK weights 172gr.

Flying the Alula TREK

First of all, I found the alula TREK easy to launch (PS: You certainly remember my great quality as HLG launcher at the end of a video about the Libelle ...). She is easier to launch because smaller, she takes the energy well, and you don't need a full armside  launch rotation to reach a confortable altitude allowing to glide, explore the field, or even catch a thermal ... yes yes, it can happens ! To obtain a better launch the Alula must be perfectly trimmed to not diverge and climb straight. the grip provided by the upperside and underside clear tape is satisfying considering you cannot "inject" the same power into the launch compare to a normal HLG.

In flight, what is immediatly noticeable is the natural speed which is high. At the field, it is better to let the Alula to fly. If you try to slow her down the sink ratio increases quickly. In the air, she is demonstrative and indicates the lift or sink air very well. Of course she will not be as competitive as a HLG in this excercice, but she is more than good enough to enjoy it !
Compared to the Libelle, she is easier to launch, has a higher cruise speed but sink ratio is a bit higher, so where the Libelle can come back to be hand catched, the Alula will miss it by few meters from the same distance.

At the slope the Alula TREK is a joy to fly. It looks like she borrowed some ADN of the weasel as she is fast, agile, and like to play. The Alula EVO was very sensitive to proper setup, and this is apparently not the case with the TREK !
The looping is easy, and nice, when it was nearly impossible with the EVO, looking most of the time as a "comma" if she had not enough speed and energy.  With the TREK, you can chain them without any problem which indicate that she doesn't dissipate her energy quickly. The roll can be quick or slow depending of your settings. With 10mm of ailerons, the roll rate is fine, but is more confortable with 13mm as indicated in the user manual. Inverted flight that needed a backward CoG on the EVO is a simple task with the TREK, even with a "out of the box" CoG. The Alula TREK penetrates well the wind, and with the small ballast compartiment where you can have 20gr (metal) to 30g (lead) of ballast, it is even better.

At the landing the wings have a tendancy to open rotate, so even if the magnet secure the wings well in flight you can add a bit of Blenderm tape underside on the junction to avoid this.
Several friends borrowed me the Alula TREK, either at the field or at the slope this week-end. They liked a lot and all said: "Wow ! there are noticeable improvements over the Alula Evo" for those who still have one.


Overall I found the Alula TREK better in all compartiments, thanks to a wider flying envelop. Therefore she can be flown more often in various conditions from no wind and pure thermalling to light breeze with the same joy and same smile on your face.

From my point of view, Dream flight succeeded to propose us a revisited Alula, reducing the assembly time, improving her flying capabilities to satisfy even more people. It is easy to guess that this alula TREK will be another best seller considering how big was the success of the previous version, and how much the new one is awaited !


WINGSPAN             900 mm
WING AREA           16.71 dm2
WEIGHT                  172 gr
WING LOADING    9.3-10.2 gm/dm2
CONTROLS             2 Channels (elevons)
PRICE                       90 $

Friday, April 17, 2015

A new tail for the Needle 115

I just received an interesting info from Thuro (the designer of the popular Needle glider serie) : He designed a new horizontal tail for the Needle115. The new tail is smaller and with a similar aspect ratio than the Needle 100. Results are extremely encouraging as the N115 is now much faster and behave similarly to the N100. To remind you, the N100 is currently the fastest F3F plane in the world, holding the world record in 24.58s in Mr O hands. Personnally, I got last summer a 28.01s with it. The N115, which is larger is more suitable for F3F in normal conditions. It will be interesting to see it in action.

Monday, April 13, 2015

journée initiation au VDP Banne d'ordanche

Journées Nationales
Planeur VDP-Banne d’Ordanche

10/11 Août 2015

Le Club des ‘ Ailes Silencieuses ‘ de la Bourboule organise sur son site de la Banne d’Ordanche les premières Journées Nationales du VDP les 10 et 11 aout prochains afin de faire découvrir la pratique du vol de pente à tout licencié FFAM demandeur. Ce site central par rapport au territoire français est avec accès direct par autoroute A 89 à 10 min du site de vol ! 

Le site de vol est multidirectionnel avec possibilité d’installation de sandows, son accès est simple et rapide depuis le parking véhicule. Le club des Ailes Silencieuses possède un local In Situ avec tout le confort ( repas, assise, eau, électricité ,toilettes..).

Le site de vol est à seulement quelques minutes de La Bourboule où des activités familiales variées telles que : marche, piscine, spa, vtt, cheval, luge d’été, gastronomie, etc…sont possibles. Ces journées d’initiation au VDP sont Entièrement Gratuites et encadrées par des moniteurs fédéraux ainsi que des pilotes de renoms tels que : Patrick Médard, Lionel Fournier, Jean Palais, Jean Michel Leprovost, et bien d’autres encore.

Vous êtes licencié FFAM et vous possédez un planeur de n’importe quel type mais vous n’avez pas encore essayé cette superbe discipline du VDP , alors profitez de cette initiation et encadrement en toute sécurité pour régler vos machines et découvrir les joies de cette pratique.

Vous aborderez :
 - Sécurité du vol en VDP
 -Encadrement respect du site de vol
 -Initiation Vol thermique / vol vitesse / etc

Pour cela vous devez vous inscrire par avance avant le 15 juillet ( places limitées pour un encadrement de qualité ) par courriel à : en indiquant vos Noms , prénom, adresse, type planeur , niveau de pilotage et numéro de licence FFAM.

Site ailes silencieuses :

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Alula TREK first contact

I received the Alula TREK this morning and did this video while unboxing it, in order to share with you all. More to come so stay tuned !

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Alula Trek from Dream Flight, more information !

All the information about the Alula TREK from Dream-Flight are now available in the PDF brochure release few minutes ago :