Going Fast in Circles

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Written by Fred Cronenwett Spirit of St. Louis USA World Cup and 2017 Speed Cup of Canada Event coverage As seen in the September 2018 issue of Model Aviation.

Control Line (CL) Speed has one goal and that is to fly as fast as possible. Many types of CL Speed events are flown, but there is one competition that makes people look twice because of how fast the models fly and how they are configured. On October 5-8, 2017, the Lafayette Esquadrille CL Club in St. Louis hosted the Spirit of St. Louis USA World Cup and the 2017 Speed Cup of Canada for F2A CL Speed following the international FAI rules. Buder Park, in the St. Louis Metro area, is a world-class flying site for any type of CL activity and where the contests took place. FAI stands for Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the governing body for international aeromodeling events. AMA rules are typically followed in the US, but most contests held in Europe and other locations use the FAI rules. The FAI community has set up a series of contests called the World Cup. In the World Cup, a competitor’s three highest scores from contests in different countries are added. The overall score with the highest total wins the FAI F2A World Cup. To achieve this honor is extremely difficult because of the caliber of pilots who compete worldwide. The winning speed in the 2017 F2A World Cup is currently at 305 kilometers per hour (kph); top speeds recorded at Buder Park hit 299.6 kph. When you convert this to miles per hour the fastest time was 186.1 mph. Because there were two separate World Cup contests, pilots earned scores from two countries. The Spirit of St. Louis USA World Cup was held October 5-6, 2017, and the 2017 Speed Cup of Canada was held October 7-8. The rules allow for the event to be held in the US because it is in the same time zone, but a Canadian Jurist was required. Buder Park has two paved circles and a fenced Speed circle with a pylon. The venue flooded in April 2017. Since that time, the flying site has been cleaned up with the help of the St. Louis County Parks Department, Greater St. Louis Modeling Association, the Lafayette Esquadrille CL Club, and an AMA Flying Site Development Improvement grant.

Technical Aspects

F2A is a technical event. The model airplane configuration is important, but most of the effort is spent on the engine and the propellers flown during the competition. Each contest consists of four rounds; a contestant’s highest speed from any of the four rounds determines his or her overall score and placing. The models all look similar, with thin sheet metal wings on the left side only. The aircraft have a .15-size engine with a tuned pipe, and the fuel supply to the engine is shut off after the flight is complete. Specially designed handles hook into the pylon at the center of the circle to fix the radius of the circle flown. It allows a pilot to fly and not have to hang on because of high line tension during the nine timed laps. Another unique feature of the airplane is the single-blade propeller that has a counterbalance inside of the spinner. The engines will exceed 40,000 rpm during timed laps.
Ivan Valishev’s handle is hooked into the pylon. The pilot hangs onto the pylon while running around it.

The fuel used contains 80% methyl alcohol and 20% castor oil; there is no nitromethane in the fuel. As with all CL Speed contests, the fuel is supplied to each of the contestants. In this instance, the North American Speed Society (NASS), AMA’s Special Interest Group for CL Speed, provided the fuel for the event. The models take off using a dolly that is released after the model is airborne. The pilot whips the model to unload the propeller then the motor kicks in to full rpm. If the pilot likes how the motor is running, he or she will put the handle into the pylon and the flight is timed. After nine laps, the pilot pulls the handle out of the pylon and shuts down the motor. (See my YouTube flight video listed in “Sources” for how this is done.) A transitrace electronic timing device linked to a laptop computer is used to record the speed for each lap, and then shows the final speed after all nine laps are complete. The entire contest can be run with four people after everything is in place.

The Contests

Yury Shvedenkov was the Canadian FAI Jurist. He ensured that the FAI rules were followed during the contest. Yuri is from Lindsay, Ontario. Carl Dodge and Glen Van Sant were the other FAI Judges.
2014 F2A World Champion Carl Dodge has his handle hooked into the pylon during an official flight.

Weather is a concern at any contest, but CL Speed fliers care more about the barometric pressure and air temperature. The best conditions for F2A are when the barometric pressure is high, the humidity is low, and the temperature is cool. These conditions increase the oxygen level in the air, in turn increasing the engine power. When the event began on Thursday, the temperature was in the low 80s, but the barometric pressure was high. On Saturday morning, a storm moved in and the barometric pressure began to drop. Ultimately, it rained on Saturday afternoon. It was decided to not fly Saturday’s second round, which meant that contestants had to fly three rounds on Sunday. The air was better for the engines on Sunday after the storm had passed. The engines that were used included the Irvine Halman Special, which is a handmade version of the British Irvine .15 rear-exhaust powerplant. Another engine used was a Profi engine that is made in Kharkov, Ukraine.

Meet Carl Dodge

The Pilots

Carl Dodge flew with a Theobald-Wisniewski Association engine in the FAI model that he flew in the 1972 World Championships. Carl is a two-time F2A World Champion who has many years of experience. Patrick Hempel, who was flying in his first F2A contest, has been involved with other CL Racing and Speed events, but he is new to the F2A scene. He came to the World Cup to learn and fly with the best. The FAI CL Speed team that will represent the US in Landres, France, in 2018 was present. These pilots include Bill Hughes, Alex Valishev, James Van Sant, and Junior team member Ivan Valishev.
Alex Valishev whips the model to unload the propeller. This part can be extremely physical.

Bill Hughes and Matthieu Perret start the motor for Carl Dodge, who flew his model from the 1972 FAI World Championships.

The idea for the St. Louis World Cup was born at the 2016 Nats when Alex and Bill suggested that the Lafayette Esquadrille club host the World Cup. Bill has represented the US in 12 CL World Championships. He has flown F2A Speed since 1984 and was second in the World Cup in 2009.
James Van Sant launches an airplane for an official flight. The models take off with help from a dolly that is released after the aircraft is airborne.

Two father/son teams flew in the St. Louis World Cup event. Glen and James Van Sant was one. James started flying F2A in 2008 and was the US Junior team member in 2010 when the team traveled to Hungary.

Meet James and Glen Van Sant

Alex and Ivan Valishev were also in attendance. Ivan flew with the US FAI team in Australia in 2016 and placed third. He also flew in the 2012 CL World Championships in Bulgaria. Alex started flying CL in 1983 and started flying Speed in 1986; he was on the 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 US Speed teams. Patrick Hempel, who traveled from Texas with Bill Lee (who is a veteran of no fewer than 10 FAI World Championships), was a contender in the 2016, 2014, and 2012 CL World Championships. Patrick started flying CL with his dad, Gene, when he was 7 years old. Two international pilots, Valerii Bielykov from the Ukraine, and Matthieu Perret from France, also competed. Matthieu is from Landres, France, and Valerii is from Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Alex Valishev and Matthieu Perret start the engine for Valerii Bielykov for an official flight.

Valerii Bielykov and Alex Valishev are getting ready for a heat. The white boxes on the circle are the transitrace electronic timing devices.

The group of pilots who fly F2A is not large and most have known each other for a long time. Yuri and Alex flew CL models together as kids in Siberia, Russia. Bill, Patrick, and Glen also flew together as kids.

In the End

No records were broken during the contest, but Bill, Alex, Matthieu, and Patrick all improved on their personal best speeds.
L-R: Bill Hughes, Valerii Bielykov, and Matthieu Perret are on the podium for second, first, and third places respectively in the Speed Cup of Canada.

Alex Valishev, Valerii Bielykov, and Bill Hughes are on the podium for the Spirit of St. Louis USA World Cup.

Contest director (CD) John Moll organized a Friday night banquet at a local barbecue restaurant to relax after the first two full days of flying. The Lafayette Esquadrille CL Club thanks everyone who helped get the flying site in great shape, including the St. Louis County Parks ground crew, John Moll, Jerry Reed, Fred Cronenwett, and Randy Ross.
John Moll was the CD for the Spirit of St. Louis World Cup. He did a great job.

The Lafayette Esquadrille CL Club will host another CL Speed event on September 27-30, 2018. Check the club’s website for additional details. Click here to view standings from the 2017 event! —Fred Cronenwett clscale7@gmail.com


NASS www.clspeed.com Lafayette Esquadrille CL Club www.lafayetteesquadrillecl.wordpress.com YouTube Video St. Louis F2A World Cup www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyKin6ETkK0

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