CD Guidelines – F5J USA Tour

Recent updates:
11-05-2021 – Added #21: Handling AMRT failures.
4-05-2021 – Added #20: touching ground-based objects before landing.
6-13-2020 – Revised #6 to include paragraph on early motor starts.
12-27-2019 – Revised #6 to include 100 point penalty on re-launch under the conditions described.

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 pilots 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. Legal launches (Added 6-8-17, Revised 11-26-18, 12-20-2019, 6-13-2020)

During your pilots meetings we suggest that you issue a reminder that a legal F5J launch is one that follows these FAI and Tour rules:

a) Launch direction is set by the CD
b) As specified by the CD: Must launch either (i) within the Access Corridor and within 2mtr of the lane flag, or (ii) within 4mtr of the landing 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
f)  Must not turn after launch until 3 seconds have elapsed

Re-launches: If a launch attempt is made where the throttle has not been advanced/activated, that is not considered a launch attempt and as such the pilot is allowed to immediately re-launch with a 100 point penalty. However, if a launch is attempted with the throttle activated, even if the prop spinning is obstructed (e.g. prop caught on the canopy), the launch is still considered a valid attempt and no re-launch is allowed.

Early motor starts: If a plane’s motor is turned on prior to the start horn but the plane was not released from the pilot’s hand then there is no launch attempt* and thus no penalty as long as the motor is turned off, the AMRT is reset, and then the pilot launches. In that case all that is lost are the working time seconds that it took to turn the motor off and reset the AMRT.

* per (c) There is an attempt when the model aircraft is released with the motor running by the competitor or his helper.

7. No altitude switches allowed (added 6-8-17, revised 12-19-2019)

New F5J pilots may inadvertently leave their ALES altitude switch enabled for 200 mtrs. This is not legal in F5J. During your pilots 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. Total pilots in fly-offs (added 7-21-17, revised 12-6-18)

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.

Regarding the maximum allowed fly-off pilots, while the FAI rule states 30% of qualifying pilots we are allowing CDs to fill the existing lanes even if this exceeds the 30% number. We see this as good for both participating pilots and contest organizers.

12. Procedure for Tour 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. 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.

14. Declaring launch and landing directions (added 5-18-18, revised 12-19-2019)

In weather conditions where the wind direction is changing it is suggested that the CD or a line judge be prepared to announce the launch directions as described below. If possible these announcements can be made over the PA system for longer flight lines and/or accompanied with an arm point. Care should be taken in the pilots meeting to be clear on how to interpret the direction from arm points.

Launches: Announce the launch direction to pilots on the flight line no later than 30 seconds before launch. i.e. once the 30 second launch countdown has commenced the launch direction should not be changed.

Landings: CDs have 2 options: (a) let each pilot determine their own landing direction, or (b) announce the landing direction no later than 2:00 minutes before landing. Otherwise if no direction change is announced pilots should assume a normal landing direction based on the launch for that flight.

15. Suspending a contest due to high winds (added 5-18-18, revised 12-20-2019)

During the pilots meeting it is suggested that the CD declare how high winds may terminate or delay the contest. i.e. whether the CD will strictly adhere to FAI wind limits (per Aeromodeling General Rules, C.17.2 (i): 12 m/s (26.8mph) sustained for at least 1 minute at 2 mtrs above ground) or whether the CD will make a judgement call based on safety and/or other factors. If a majority of pilots are willing, a wind hold delay may be the preferred alternative to just canceling the day’s flights.

16. Handling flight line infractions (added 5-18-18)

Especially for multi-day events if at all possible it is suggested that you have at least one line judge whose watches for launch and landing violations. Typical launch violations can include launching before the start horn, starting the motor before the horn, or turning too soon after launching. The most common landing issue to watch for is landing after the start of the end horn.

If you do not have a line judge then we suggest the following alternate way to “watch” for violations: during the pilots meeting say that if the CD receives a violation report from BOTH adjacent flight lanes from either a pilot or their timer then the CD can use both those reports as the basis for awarding a penalty. For pilots on the end lanes we suggest that you accept infraction reports from the two nearest lanes. e.g. with 8 lanes if reports are received from lanes 6 and 7 for an infraction on lane 8 then we suggest the CD accept this as the basis for a penalty.

17. No extended flying after emergency motor restarts (added 5-18-18)

If a pilot decides to do an emergency motor restart it is suggested that you tell pilots they MUST return immediately and land without any further attempts to thermal or otherwise extend their flight time. This guideline comes after reports that some restarted planes have interfered with other planes in the air, or have caused other pilots to think the restarted planes were still having a valid flight.

18. Handling timer/watch failures (added 5-18-18)

According to FAI F5J rule a) pilots are supposed to be given a re-flight if their timer person fails to properly keep the flight time. This can be caused by watch failure or a human error. This rule was written with the assumption that contest officials are providing the timers. If the CD suspects abuse he may wish to limit this type of re-flight e.g. one timer-related re-flight per pilot per contest.

19. Sharing of planes (added 12-20-2019)

FAI 2020 F5J rules allow team (flight matrix) protection for junior pilots and their helpers e.g. father and son teams. As such the Tour will allow plane sharing between junior pilots and their helpers. This is accomplished in GliderScore by assigning a unique TX frequency for both such that the matrix will ensure that neither pilot will fly in the same groups.

At the CD’s discretion, for senior pilots matrix protection and plane sharing can be permitted for pilots flying in their first year of the Tour. If you are a first-year Tour pilot and you wish to share planes with another pilot you must communicate your request to the CD well before he generates the matrix.

20.  Touching a ground-based object before plane lands (added 4-05-2021)

If you are coming in late to land a question comes up about whether it is advantageous to have your plane touch a ground-based object (e.g. tall grass) before the end horn. i.e. stop the clock before your plane comes to rest.

While it is true that the clock stops when plane first touches the ground or a ground-based object (rule a) ii), if the plane makes final ground contact AFTER the end horn then it is a zero landing (rule k).

Also remember that the clock always stops no later than the end horn. In F5J the best time you can get is 9:59 in qualifying rounds and 14:59 in fly-off rounds.

21. Handling AMRT failures (added 11-05-2021)

Up to now there has been an unwritten Tour practice that allowed pilots who had Altis (altimeter) malfunctions, including blank screens and “—-” indications, to ask the CD to view their Altis log with the hope that it might show a valid start height. The Tour’s Advisory Group recently discussed this and concluded that from now on the Tour will follow FAI rules on this and no longer allow post-flight Altis log inspections. i.e. a malfunctioning AMRT or “—-” display will result in a zero flight.