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May 11, 2015

Protechwood – RC Pylon Racing at Sanderson Field – Excitement From the Flight Line

The Sanderson Field RC Fliers (SFRCF) hosts many sanctioned Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) pylon competitions each 12 months. The competitions are sponsored and structured by the Pylon Racers of Puget Seem (PROPS). The events are held at Sanderson Field in Shelton, Washington, the SFRCF household field. Several associates of SFRCF are dedicated RC pylon racers and are also associates of PROPS.


Tom Strom Sr., Tom Strom Jr., Tom Graves, Edward Graves, Eric Ide, and Dan Nalley are frequent individuals at the Sanderson Field competitions and are all SFRCF associates. They are also associates of PROPS and some normally provide as contest director (CD) or tools coordinator.

Tom Strom Sr. and Jr. often provide as “caller” for each other in the course of the competitions. Tom Sr. is a prolonged time pylon racer and set the nationwide Q-forty velocity record of 57.eighty three sec on eight/5/2007–and did it at Sanderson Field. His “caller” at that time was Tom Jr. He flew a Nelson LS run Polecat for the record. Tom Sr. carries on to be an inspiration and mentor for pylon racers of all experience degrees and also carries on to be a fierce competitor. As pilots, both equally Sr. and Jr. are normally amid the winners at the stop of the competitions.

Tom and Edward Graves fulfilled a pylon racer’s aspiration by competing in their initial NATS competitors for the 428 Q-500 celebration in July. Prepping and tests their planes and then packing and delivery them was carried out just prior to flying to the competitors. Insuring that their tools arrived safely was really a challenge. Even though they did not convey household a trophy, they both equally felt like winners immediately after the terrific experience of taking part in the competitors. Tom and “Eddie” are a father and son staff and each serves as the “caller” for the other in the course of competitions.

Eric Ide and Dan Nalley are also critical opponents at the Sanderson Field events and are normally amid the winners for the events they enter. As do several pilots, Eric also served as a caller at a the latest celebration.


Technical specs for planes flown at AMA sanctioned pylon events are detailed in the AMA competitors regulations. The regulations explore everything from the spinner to the tail. Style specifications in the regulations for each class of competitors contain those for the wing, fuselage, electricity plant, landing gear, propeller, design elements, and several other components of the plane.

There are 3 AMA courses (Events) that are flown at Sanderson Field, as follows:

  • Celebration 422: Quarter forty (Q-forty),
  • Celebration 424: Sport Quickie, and
  • Celebration 428: Quickie 500 (Q-500).

The Sport Quickie (424) is the entry amount celebration and the planes are the slowest of the 3, reaching about a hundred and ten mph about the study course. Their specification insures that the cost for the plane and engine will be reduced. The planes are commonly obtainable commercially. Wings and tails will have to be built of either all wood or wood sheeting above a stable foam main. An example of a commercially obtainable Sport Quickie is the Wonderful Planes Viper 500.

The Quickie 500 (428) is the following move to high functionality RC pylon racing. The “500” refers to the least wing place for the class of 500 sq. inches. Contrary to the Sport Quickie, wings and tails created in molds designed to make hollow main constructions can be utilised. With the engines permitted for this class, the planes can achieve speeds about 170mph.

The Quarter forty (422) is the swiftest of the courses. These are the planes that achieve the a hundred and eighty-200mph top speeds. Q-forty planes are normally all composite and “painted in the mold” resulting in beautiful, sleek–and fast–racers. As specified in the regulations, the planes in this class will have to also resemble actual airplanes:

“Models entered in this celebration shall be recognizable replicas of total-scale, human-carrying, propeller-pushed aircraft that either raced in or ended up built for shut-study course or cross-region racing or a velocity record try.”

THE RACE Program

The race study course is described by 3 pylons that generate a triangular study course. Ten laps about the study course equals 2.5 miles. The genuine length flown is for a longer period, as Tom Strom Sr. factors out:

“… a pilot requirements to deviate study course for several causes. Held up by lap targeted visitors, have to fly about and go targeted visitors, modifications in altitude, broader strains about the study course for any reason. I think it would be harmless to say the typical aircraft flies concerning 3 to 3.5 genuine miles, but the study course is a 2.5 mile study course.”

Pilots fly their aircraft about the study course in a counterclockwise course. The study course duration is chosen to result in ten-lap periods concerning a person minute (fast rate) and two minutes (sluggish rate for inexperienced persons). For the fastest aircraft, the velocity about the study course is usually concerning a hundred and eighty-200mph.

THE Planning

Planning for a pylon race truly starts prior to arriving at the field. For Case in point, Tom and Edward Graves used several hrs tests their Q-500 aircraft at Sanderson Field prior to flying off to the NATS–and this does not rely the hrs of developing time. Even though Tom and Edward invest in pre-built wings for their Q-500 aircraft, they use their individual layout for the fuselage. Like other pylon pilots, Tom and Edward pay out shut awareness to each individual element of the aircraft in buy to increase trustworthiness, cut down drag, and increase functionality–prior to the race starts.

The day prior to a scheduled competitors at Sanderson Field, the PROPS organizers are on site environment up the study course. At this time, the field is open up for follow flights. Sometimes, prior to the races truly commence in the morning, time is also scheduled for follow flights.

Pilots get ready their aircraft with meticulous awareness to element. The variance concerning initial spot and previous spot is normally so shut that each individual aspect of the aircraft’s readiness is critical. As an example, glow plug factors are commonly checked for coloration, an sign of the ideal carburetor adjustment. It is very disappointing to be on the flight line, with the clock counting, and not be in a position to create flight regulate or commence an engine prior to the commence-flag drops–and this does occur!

Ahead of the journey to the flight line, pilots verify the “heat matrix” for their races, fuel their aircraft, and implement figuring out decals to their aircraft that correspond to the starting lanes on the flight line. A heat matrix utilised for the Sanderson Field competitions also exhibits which fall of the flag launches which lanes. The aircraft launches are staggered marginally to stop congestion at the starting line on takeoff.

For safety, really hard hats are necessary for everybody on the flight line and also for judges and other study course personnel. After putting on really hard hats, pilots board a trailer for the journey to the flight line.


As new pilots and their callers get there and completely ready on their own for a new heat, others start off the journey back to the campsite. For safety functions, everybody who is not on the flight line will have to be a least of 300 ft from the race study course, as described by the 3 pylons. At Sanderson Field, the campground is additional away and the individuals are shuttled to and from the flight line.

Among the several tasks of the starter is to have pilots perform a regulate verify to insure that the RC method is working adequately: the transmitter and receiver for each aircraft will have to be working properly.

When the pilots/callers are completely ready, the starter begins the sixty-2nd clock. After the clock begins, and mainly because pilots do not want to commence their engines also soon, they observe the clock carefully until, in their experience, it can be the ideal time to do so.

Pilots have sixty seconds to commence their engines and signal their readiness to regulate the aircraft to the starter. After the engine has been began, the pilot usually moves away from the commence line (in direction of pylon 2 and 3) and prepares to regulate the aircraft.

After the starter “drops the flag,” the caller launches the aircraft and races to the facet of the pilot. With the initial fall of the flag in a 3 pilot heat, the two outside the house lanes launch the center lane launches with the 2nd flag.

Even though the pilot controls the aircraft, the caller “calls” to the pilot when it can be time to make a transform. Program judges observe the race cautiously to make absolutely sure the planes round the pylons on the outside the house and do not transform a corner by slicing inside of the pylon. A “reduce” results in an extra lap two “cuts” and the pilot is out of the race. Other study course personnel hold observe of each lap finished by each individual aircraft and their time about the study course.

As each aircraft completes the previous lap, the starter drops his flag to show this to the pilot. When all of the planes have finished their previous lap, the starter information the heat results. As specified in the regulations, the pilots will later on acquire factors for the heat as follows:

“After each heat, factors shall be awarded based on the buy of finish. If the matrix is set up for four-plane heats, the result is four (4) factors for initial spot, 3 (3) factors for 2nd spot, two (2) factors for third spot, and a person (one) point for previous spot. If the matrix is set up for 3-plane heats, the winner receives 3 (3) factors, 2nd spot two (2), and previous spot a person (one) point. If the matrix is set up for two-plane heats, the winner receives two (2) factors and the loser receives a person (one). Zero factors are awarded for a no-commence (DNS), failure to complete the heat (DNF), double reduce (XX), or black flag (DQ).”

When the pilots get there back at the campground/pit place, the heat winner will have to weigh his/her aircraft to insure that it is at or higher than the least allowable fat, as specified in the regulations.

After the previous heat of the previous day, it can be time for the awards ceremony. It’s also time for the study course-workers’ prize drawing.


It takes the dedicated effort of several study course personnel, organizers, and other supporters to place on a pylon celebration. Even though they are not mentioned in this short article, they need to all know that their endeavours are normally drastically appreciated. Possessing volunteers for the study course do the job frees the pilots and callers to concentrate on planning and flying the aircraft.

Exclusive thanks to Patt and Dan Nalley for reviewing the short article and presenting their comments and tips.


Model Aviation
“Racing is addictive, and which is a fantastic issue”
by Scott Causey
April 2009
Page 130

Model Aviation
“The phone to racing”
by Scott Causey
June 2009
Page a hundred thirty five

Copyright © 2009 Royce Tivel at Select Digitals

RC Pylon Racing at Sanderson Field – Excitement From the Flight Line, September eighteen, 2009

Supply by Protechwood

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