Friday 17 August 2018

A One Minute Guide to F3F

F3F is the Formula 1 of slope soaring. Or perhaps it's better described as F1 practice day, since it's a timed event rather than a race. Either way... F3F will improve your flying skills and help you get the  best out of your mouldie - all in a friendly atmosphere as everyone participates in the running of the competition.

In this post, I'll describe what you need to get going, safety checks, and how to enter.

F3F in action!

The rules

The rules of F3F are simple. After your model is launched, you have 30 seconds to gain height. Your task is to fly ten legs of a 100 meter course as fast as possible.

The ends of the course are designated Base A and Base B. At each base there’s an A frame with a sighting line. A ‘buzzerman’ presses a buzzer you each time you pass the base. The buzzer is linked to a central timing device.

Rounding a base. The buzzer man hits a button when you reach the base.

After completing a run, your time is recorded. The fastest time in a round gains 1000 points, with other times scored pro-rata. 

Several rounds will be normally be flown, and the pilot with the highest aggregate score is the winner.

Wind power

What equipment do I need?

If you just want a taster, then a small 2-meter model is fine. Once you commit, you may want to upgrade to a 2.8 - 3.0 meter purpose designed F3F model. A competition is a good place to compare different models, and pick up a used example.

In terms of radio kit, there’s no favoured manufacturer. If you have an open source or Ethos transmitter then there's no need to program from scratch, as I offer free F3F templates for OpenTX and Ethos.

At a recent English Open. Your model could be in there next time!

Preparing for a comp

Safety and good preparation are key. Before setting off:

  • Check that the airframe and servos are mechanically sound
  • Make sure your transmitter is programmed correctly and provides sufficient range
  • Ensure the batteries are in good shape and fully charged. 
  • The model should be aerodynamically safe (CG in range, sensible control rates).

Jean-Luc Foucher with own-design Pinguin and FrSky Q-X7


F3F events are typically run over one or two days. Locations include Sussex, S. Wales, Scotland, N. Yorks Moors and Shropshire so you're sure to find a competition within reach of an early start. There's a full list of events on the the GBSRA site.

F3F is not all just about the flying: Whitby harbour after the comp, 2017

Come along!

One things for sure - you'll learn more in a day of F3F than in a year of dodging foamies on your club slope. So why not come along to one of the events and have a blast?

Another run accomplished


GBSRA - GB Slope Racing Association, with events calendar
BARCS forum - competition updates

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