The F5J USA Tour is a recognition and awards program that consolidates season scores for pilots that participate in one or more qualifying F5J contest events. Pilot rankings will be web-published throughout the season and awards will be given at the end of the contest season. The year-end results will be promoted in the RC soaring community with the goal of increasing F5J awareness.

The purpose of the F5J USA Tour program is:

  • To establish a competitive series of regional F5J contests
  • To provide a promotional platform that enables F5J contest growth in the USA
  • To provide an F5J contest series suitable for preparation to compete in F5J World Cup events

Registering your F5J event — Clubs and contest groups wanting to host an event can submit an online application:

The deadline for registering your events for the current season is June 30. Registration for the next season will open on Nov 1.

Event Sponsors — This program connects F5J product sponsors with clubs and event organizers:

Pilot Standings — Pilot standings for the Tour can be viewed here:

RC Groups — An active thread is available for contest details and general Tour discussion:


The F5J USA Tour Advisory Group is responsible for managing the Tour. It includes the following key supporters and pioneers of USA-based F5J:

Chris Bajorek, Chairman
Lee Wolfe
Steve Neu
Lenny Keer
Larry Jolly
Jim Monaco

Thanks to our volunteers for helping to make F5J happen.

Rules and Guidelines

Recent updates:
…8-08-2017 – Added item #13 to CD Guidelines tab.
…7-21-2017 – Added items #10-12 to CD Guidelines tab.
Added items #5-9 to CD Guidelines tab.

Qualifying EventsContest RulesPilot Standings ScoringCD GuidelinesAwardsQ&A

Qualifying Events

The USA season period is Dec 1 – Nov 30 (the Phoenix event is the first of the season). Contests that want to be part of the F5J USA Tour must adhere to the following guidelines:

1.  Each club or contest organization may host up to 2 F5J USA Tour events in a given season.

2.  Events can be either 1-day or 2-day formats.

3.  The deadline for registering events is June 30.

4.  Each event must be approved by the Tour after the online application has been submitted.

5.  Events must be publicly announced at least 30 days in advance of the event date.

6.  All pilots must be valid AMA members.

7.  All planes must be outfitted with an FAI F5J-approved altimeter (newer F5J-compatible devices may not appear on the FAI list but will be accepted)

8.  Flight matrix – Round-by-round flight groups must be generated with all pilots treated as members of a single “class.” If contests are actually run with multiple classes the flight groups must be generated in a single contest without any attempt to fly pilots in a given class together. Further, groups must not be “seeded” based on scores from prior rounds. See Note 1.

9.  Minimum rounds – Each pilot must fly a minimum of 4 rounds in the event, otherwise their scores cannot be submitted to the Tour (Note 2).

10.  Minimum pilots – A minimum of 6 pilots must participate in each event. i.e. must fly the minimum number of rounds in the event.

11.  Submitting scores and fees – At the conclusion of a Tour event the final scores for all pilots who fly the minimum number of rounds must be entered into the Tour Results spreadsheet (will be provided). The spreadsheet is sent along with a $3.00/pilot 2017 Tour fee (an online Paypal link will be provided). This fee will be used to cover end-of-season award hardware and web hosting expenses.

Note 1: The overall goal is to maximize the number of times each pilot flies against each other pilot (technically this is not random). Gliderscore, for example, operates this way and ensures the fairest possible flight matrix.
Note 2: This is to ensure that all listed pilots are actually “valid” participants in the contest.

Contest Rules

In order to encourage entry level F5J participation, the F5J USA Tour is allowing certain deviations to the FAI rules. These deviations are designed to enhance safety and remove barriers to participation and will be allowed at all Tour events. Note that the advisory group will review the need for deviations every year based on pilot feedback and the effectiveness of the deviations.

1.  FAI F5J Rules – The contest rules for each Qualifying Event must follow the latest official FAI F5J rules (posted here) with the following exceptions:

1A.  For the 2017 season the following FAI rules deviations are allowed:

A.  Emergency motor restarts are allowed but will result in a zero flight score i.e. not a penalty (Note 1).

Other FAI deviations will only be accepted if they are pre-approved by the advisory group.

2.  FAI rules highlights – The following FAI rules for F5J are highlighted here to address common questions:

2A.  Flyoffs – Normally, 3 or 4 flyoff rounds are flown after the qualifying rounds. However, as of the 2017 rules, the CD may elect to not have a flyoff if announced before the contest starts.

2B.  Discards – If 4 or fewer qualifying rounds are flown there are no discarded rounds (“throw-aways”). If more than 4 are flown then the lowest round score is discarded. Note that all zero flights are “discardable.”

2C.  Re-flights – Pilots may request a re-flight if they are involved in a midair collision or “unexpected event.” Please see the “Handling Re-flights” topic in the CD Guidelines tab.

2D.  No skegs – No skegs or other “arresting devices” that cause the plane to slow down during landings are allowed.

3.  Rules deviations in announcements – All FAI contest rules deviations–including those listed above–must be clearly identified in the RC Groups and/or email contest announcements.

4.  Safety – For safety reasons all F5J USA Tour contests must follow the FAI’s flying site layout for the Access Corridor (safety lane).

5.  Sportsmanship – The F5J USA Tour Advisory Group reserves the right to sanction or ban any pilot who demonstrates poor online or on-field sportsmanship.

Note 1:  This deviation is allowed for safety reasons since many USA flying fields have at least some trees and/or power line obstacles to avoid on low altitude returns. Most popular altimeters (e.g. Altis) support this option with a display showing that a restart was triggered.

Pilot Standings Scoring

Annual standings for pilots will be calculated according to the following guidelines:

1.  Top 4 scores used for each pilot – Pilot standings will be calculated based on the sum of contest scores (Total Event Points) from each pilot’s top 4 events.

2.  No pilot classes – For purposes of submitting contest scores to the Tour there is no “class” designation submitted with pilots and their scores. See item “#8 Flight matrix” in the Qualifying Events tab regarding how round-by-round flight groups must be generated.

3.  Number of contest days – Scores from both 1-day and 2-day events are used. Note that the Pilot Count Bonus is only applied to scores from 2-day events.

4.  Normalized pilot scores – Qualifying (not flyoff) rounds are used to compute this score. The top placing pilot’s score will be set to 1000 Tour points. All remaining pilot’s scores will be normalized (to two decimal points of precision) using the top pilot’s score.

5.  Pilot Count Bonus – A Pilot Count Bonus is awarded to all pilots participating in a 2-day event. This bonus is calculated based on the number of participating pilots and their contest ranking, as follows:

  • The event winner will get bonus points equal to the number of participating pilots,
  • the 2nd place pilot gets bonus points equal to the number of participating pilots less 1 point,
    etc., and
  • the last place pilot gets 1 bonus point.

If flyoffs are conducted then flyoff rankings are used for computing the Pilot Count Bonus for the flyoff pilots, followed by qualifying round rankings for the remaining pilots. The normalized pilot scores are not changed by flyoffs.

6.  Total Event Points, 1-day contests = Normalized pilot score

7.  Total Event Points, 2-day contests = Normalized pilot score + Pilot Count Bonus

Note 1: Tour scoring is modeled directly after the tried-and-true INTERTOUR methods.

CD Guidelines

Items presented here include rules clarifications and suggestions for F5J contest directors.

1.  Handling re-flights (added 1-1-2017)

FAI rule allows a pilot to request a re-flight due to a midair collision or an “unexpected event.” While the frequency of re-flights is low when they do happen they have the potential to upset the contest flow. Even worse, every time you elect to create a “re-flight-only group” you will have to randomly draw other non-re-flight pilots into the group. This sets up a “lottery” condition where random pilots will now be able to better their ongoing round’s score simply by being randomly chosen to fill out the re-flight group. Many feel this is unfair.

Here is how we suggest handling re-flights:

1.  If possible lay out your field with 1 or 2 extra flight lanes to handle re-flight requests. e.g if your maximum group size is 10, then lay your field out with 11 or 12 lanes.

2.  When a re-flight request is received, always try to put the re-flight pilot(s) into the next available flight group. This can be quickly accomplished using GliderScore’s Move command. Doing this eliminates having to randomly bring other pilots into a re-flight round.

3.  If it is not possible to handle re-flights by moving them into the next flight group, then we suggest you delay all re-flights until the last qualifying round; this way you have a better chance of filling that re-flight round with mostly pilots that have requested a re-flight.

2.  Pilot requesting a temporary hold during the prep time countdown (added 5-30-17)

There is no explicit FAI rule on this. A typical reason for pausing the prep time countdown is to allow a pilot to retrieve their off-field plane. In a regional contest we suggest that unless there is a medical emergency or safety related issue the prep time countdown should not be paused by a pilot who is simply not ready. During the pilot’s meeting the CD may want to make it clear that any pilot requesting a pause in the prep countdown must make the reason clear.

3.  Number of allowed “helpers” on field for each pilot (added 5-30-17)

The current FAI rules on this are a little ambiguous. Pilots are allowed one helper ( b) and one timekeeper ( d). A question that can come up is whether it is actually permissible to have a helper (separate from the timer) assisting with air reads, etc. Another question that may come up is whether a spectator could technically be considered a helper and should they be allowed to stay with the pilot.

Our interpretation is that it should be permissible for each pilot to have both a timer and a helper to assist the pilot with air reads, holding and launching the plane, etc. Regarding spectators our recommendation is that the pilot may have only 2 people assisting him, all others should be in the access corridor or at least 5 meters away from the pilot. If the pilot wants a spectator to be one of their 2 helpers we see no reason to prevent that.

4.  Penalty when plane hits helper or timer  (added 5-30-17)

If the plane hits the pilot or his “helper” ( j) the pilot loses his landing bonus. There is no explicit FAI rule regarding hitting his timer.

An official timer provided by the contest organizers should be standing inside the access corridor during landing, so hitting him there would incur a 1000 point penalty. When the pilot provides his own timer that person is essentially acting as a helper so a model hitting him should also result in loss of the landing bonus.

5. Flying in the wrong group (added 6-8-17)

We found no explicit FAI F5J rule that addresses the case where a pilot flies in the wrong group in a given round. Our recommendation: If a pilot initially flies in the wrong group but then is able to fly in the correct group in the same round, they can enter the correct score without a penalty. However, if a pilot flew in the wrong group and was not able to fly in their correct group in that same round then they should receive a zero flight.

6. Pilot’s meeting: Legal launches (added 6-8-17)

We are seeing that new F5J pilots have a tendency to perform F5J launches that are not totally legal. During your pilot’s meetings we suggest that you issue a reminder that a legal F5J launch is one that follows these FAI rules:

a) Launch direction is set by the CD
b) Must launch within 4mtr of land spot
c) Launches must initially be in a straight forward direction
d) Motor must not start until start signal
e) Must launch with motor running

7. Pilot’s meeting: no altitude switches allowed (added 6-8-17)

This is another thing we are seeing with some new F5J pilots: leaving their altitude switch enabled for 200 mtrs. This is not legal in F5J. During your pilot’s meetings we suggest that you explain that it is not allowed to use any form of altitude telemetry or altitude cutoff settings on your limiters. CDs may want to consider announcing the possibility of limiter spot checks if they feel the need.

8. Gliderscore laptop power settings alert (added 6-8-17)

When using Gliderscore’s digital timer for timing announcements and LED clock displays it is important to disable all laptop power-saving options that might shut down the laptop after a period of inactivity. Otherwise you may find official time announcements and clock displays aborted during a working time interval. Also consider that free “mouse moving” programs and scripts are available for Windows laptops (e.g. Mouse Jiggler) that prevent a laptop from going into screen-saver or inactivity-shutdown mode.

You may want to test that your laptop will run the Gliderscore digital timer for an hour without shutting down before using it in a competition.

9. Protecting against master clock failures (added 6-8-17)

If you are using Gliderscore or a master clock recording and it fails during the working time of a flight group, you can still keep the group flying if you do the following:

Have the CD or a CD helper start a stopwatch at the start of every working time interval. If the master clock fails the stopwatch person can continue the flight via PA announcements of remaining time. Otherwise, if the master clock fails during a round you will have to refly the entire group.

10. Minimum pilots in qualifying rounds (added 7-21-17)

In FAI rule a) it states ” A minimum of six (6) competitors should be scheduled for each Group.” Note that “should” indicates this is a recommendation, not a must-have. CDs have the option to set smaller group sizes although an effort should always be made to keep the groups at 6 or more pilots.

11. Minimum pilots in fly-offs (added 7-21-17)

Most are aware that the top 30% of pilots (rounded down) make the fly-offs. FAI rule c) states that pilots “will be placed together in a single Group comprising a minimum of six (6) and maximum of fourteen (14) for the fly-off rounds. For operational reasons the CD may set a lower maximum.” Our interpretation: the total pilots number to use in the 30% calculation is the total that started flying on day 1 of the event. Regarding the size of the fly-off group, while the rule states a minimum of 6 pilots it also states that CDs can set a lower maximum for operational reasons e.g. how many lanes have been set up on the field. So for small contests we agree it is acceptable for the CD to set a lower maximum even if it overrides the 6 pilot minimum. e.g. a contest that has been using 5 lanes in the qualifying rounds can run the fly-offs with those same 5 lanes.

12. Procedure for protests (added 7-21-17)

Thankfully the F5J USA Tour has not yet had a formal protest filed at any event but we wanted to clarify the procedure that must be used and the timing of when a protest can be made. If a pilot has rules concerns about an event in which they are participating the time to register a protest is at the contest with a direct verbal communication to the CD. No protest will be accepted after an event has been completed. If a protest is raised and cannot be resolved at the event then the issue will be communicated to and discussed by the F5J USA Tour Advisory Group as soon as is practically possible. The Advisory Group will then make a recommendation based on a vote with the chairman abstaining (5 votes ensures no tie). That recommendation will then be communicated to the protesting pilot and will be considered final.

13. CDs may conditionally override FAI rules (added 8-8-17)

CDs should make every effort to conform to the FAI rules as modified and interpreted by the F5J USA Tour advisory group. However, it is acceptable for rule modifications to be implemented by CDs for safety, field logistics, or legal requirements. These changes should be pre-approved by the F5J USA Tour advisory group in advance of the contest announcement and should be clearly stated in the announcement.

Example: Some field layouts may have fence or other boundaries which make the >75 meter landing penalty unworkable. In such a case CDs may revise the landing distance to fit the field.

Background: At the Hollister event in July the flyoffs were conducted with 5 pilots while the FAI rules indicate a minimum of 6. This triggered an advisory group discussion regarding whether “local field rules” can ever override FAI rules. This guideline addresses this issue.


In addition to the posting of pilot standings there will also be award “hardware” sent to the top 10 season finishers. These awards will be sent out during the month of December. There may be other “goodies” added to the season winner pot so stay tuned for details. Note that individual contest event trophies will still be handled by the local clubs.

Q: Why should I register my club’s F5J contest with the F5J USA Tour?
A:  Because being on the Tour will probably encourage more pilots to travel to your event.

Q: Are there any fees to clubs or pilots?
A: Yes, for clubs. When you submit your F5J Tour event scores, for every pilot that has flown the minimum number of rounds you are also asked to include a $3.00/pilot fee (an online Paypal link will be provided). This fee will be used to cover end-of-season awards and web hosting expenses.