Secrets of International Team Racing - Part 2
January/February 1963 American Modeler
have never been involved in FAI C/L racing, but I imagine things
have changed fairly significantly since this article appeared in
the January/February edition of American Modeler. It is the second
in a two-part installment, and unfortunately I do not have the December
1962 edition yet.
Secrets of International Team Racing - Part 2
Second of two articles by AMA Control Line Champion Paul J. Burke
You have your FAI Team Racer built, so flying it comes next.
The level of skill required to make a good competitor means that
you or your pilot must start out with some experience, primarily
racing type. International event pilots must know the importance
of "down elevator". Main cause of torque rolls and slack lines is
a full-up take-off. This type of maneuver is stupid, and especially
wrong in FAI. Why down elevator and how much?
Any racing plane has rapid acceleration. This acceleration generates
a lot of lift. If the plane makes a normal uncontrolled leap-off,
there is nothing except tip weight to prevent a roll. You know what
limited effect tip weight has. Down elevator prevents this sudden
build-up of lift from marring your take off. Just a little down
will enable the plane to fly off the ground in a stable climb. The
usual American-style Rat Racing VTO is out anyway.
The minimum height of 6 feet and the maximum of 9 feet, with up
to 19 feet in which to pass, mean that in addition to a stable plane,
a careful man is necessary. This straight and level 3' grooved flight
must be practiced continually, in all types of weather, preferably
with someone else flying in the same circle. Good FAI pilots can
fly within inches of each other with no sweat.
rules require the pilot to fly with the control handle against the
centerline of his chest. This is an awkward position, but it means
the pilot is assisting his plane as little as possible. It also
makes the pilot to keep up with his plane. Seldom do you overtake
in usual Rat Racing fashion by first passing the flyer, then his
plane, because he is lagging behind.
care. The preferred way is to pass as close as possible to the job
you are overtaking to eliminate seconds (distance) lost in a long
climb. This is the only time you can take your hand from your chest.
Passing is such a delicate. maneuver you must practice it with someone
A Team Racer is not essential to provide the fundamentals
of low altitude, high speed flight. Rat Racers are capable of the
same quality flying if designed and built properly. It is certainly
less expensive to replace a Rat Racer should you goof.
Fuel (as mentioned in our previous article) is a controlling factor
in performance. There are no exotic fuels, but there are good and
bad fuels. I feel that commercially, Cub Diesel is the one to use.
Addition of about 5% ether will help it.
ingredients if you mix your own are almost standard. The Oliver
Tiger formula is used universally. This is 20% oil, 30% Ether, 50%
Kerosene, 3% Amyl Nitrate (yes, it adds up to 103%). The oil obviously
is for lubrication. Bakers AA Castor Oil is the best you can use.
Synthetic oils such as UCON LB1145 should be merely as additives
- no more than 10%. Used straight, they cause hot running.
Kerosene is the power ingredient. There is every advantage to
buying the best grade available. I use the chemical quality, since
it gives me more consistent performance than the. gas station type.
Depending upon your average climatic conditions, you might not be
able to use a full 50%, but will have to increase the ether content
to cool off the fuel.
The ether, anesthetic grade,
or ethyl ether, is to ignite the kerosene. Although the engine will
run on less than 30%, the higher compression then required over-strains
the piston, rod, and crankshaft. Ether is also used to cool the
fuel, by lowering the ignition point. More than 40% however, will
rob too much power. Determine the proper balance of ether and kerosene
by trial and error.
Amyl nitrate, and its replacement,
propyl nitrate, smooth out the high rpm ignition. Don't skimp here.
Too little will cause immediate overheating problems.
Should you mix your own, there are three handy tools. A 500-ml graduated
cylinder to mix large quantities and percentages, a 50-ml graduated
cylinder for small quantities and small percentages, and a large
funnel to help pouring.
Propellers determine speed
and can help or hinder lappage. Obtaining the proper size is a matter
of test with the aid of a stopwatch and lap counter. Trim prop diameter
and area distribution until performance is where it cannot be improved
with a recorded prop-fuel combination. If this is not high enough,
try different combinations until you attain competitive times. No
one else is going to do it for you.
Your pilot must
learn a new technique to derive full benefit from the mono-wheel
gear. 99% of the European Racers use this. It is most important
to have the wheel as far to the inside of the circle as possible,
to provide maximum pull-out during takeoff and landing. This automatic
pull-out explains its popularity. A wheel which cannot come off
the strut and a tire which stays on the hub are vital. The length
of the strut is not as important as the torsion type mounting. This
mounting will allow a plane to land roughly without serious damage
or bouncing. The take-off and landing procedures should be practiced
at every opportunity, it is here that the most errors are made by
Suppose we run through a race? First, the circle
layout deserves attention, since the conduct of the race is determined
by its various features. This idea is to provide at least 60 feet
of clear area in which to take-off and land. This is to eliminate
as much as possible conflicts or accidents during this critical
phase. It is accomplished by dividing the outer circumference into
six equal segments. Re-fuelling and restarting can only be done
in one of these segments. So pilot and pitman must coordinate their
efforts to get their plane serviced at the same segment each time
The distance between the mechanics' outer
circle and the pilots' inner circle is equal to the length of the
control lines. The pilot cannot leave his circle, the mechanic cannot
enter the outer circle.
The space between is a no-man's
land - there no one is permitted. This is to prevent planes from
hitting people. If your plane stops inside no-man's land beyond
reach ... that's all, Brother.
Since line length equals
the distance between the two circles .the pilot can clobber a pitman
if he brings his plane across the outer line too soon. It is also
possible to taxi into lines held off the ground. This hazard is
the pitman's responsibility. The FAI is very strict on any interference
with a competitor so caution is needed as well as skill and determination.
Control lines are 626 inches from the handle center
to the plane center. The .012 inch diameter may seem oversize, but
the FAI desire for safety is again in evidence. Heavier lines do
not curtail performance much. Stranded lines are safer, since in
humid or wet weather they slide, solid lines may not.
The race is run over 100 laps, against a clock. The altitude limits
mean the distance flown is that intended by the rules. Each team
is permitted at least one official attempt, with a maximum of two.
The three entries with lowest heat times fly together in a 100 lap
start differs from any in AMA country. Each team picks its own take-off
position prior to entering the circle. Then comes a thirty second
warm-up period where the engines run to finalize adjustment. At
the end of thirty seconds all motors are stopped, the tanks topped
off, and each mechanic stands away from his plane. Pilots kneel
with their hands and, handles on the ground. The period immediately
after warm-up time is also thirty seconds in duration. The last
five seconds are usually counted down. At zero, the mechanics start
motors and launch the models. The clocks start and lap counters
are readied at the zero count.
Once airborne a pilot
must not interfere with another pilot or model. If he is passed,
he must not hinder the faster plane; and when doing the passing,
he warns the pilot he is overtaking. Keeping the model within that
three foot high flight path shared with one or two other planes
is not as easy as it looks.
When his engine quits,
the pilot moves out to the edge of the center flying circle so his
pitman can snag the plane. Missing your pitman is the easiest way
to lose. Once the pitman has the plane in hand he places it outside
the circle segment mark, refuels, flips the prop and releases the
model - assuming he has practiced this many times and never varies
The pilot gets up from his crouched position
and rejoins the other two flyers at the center of the circle. As
soon as a plane flys 100 laps, the clocks on it are stopped.
You are new to racing, so what times should you shoot for in the
beginning? Six minutes is fairly good .for any non-National or International
event. Should the contest be of National importance, 4:45.
How can you ever do 6 minutes, you may ask, after your first 60-mph
15-lap flights. Take the engine out of the plane, if it's an Oliver,
run it for an honest hour, on an 8x4 prop. This should free it up
for more mph's and non-stop laps. Then put it back in the plane
and PRACTICE. Windy weather, calm weather, rain and shine, you must
know how both plane and engine will react.
and heed, build our plane, learn your engine, study the rules, practice,
and maybe you will end up among the leaders in FAI Team Racing.
After all, who couldn't use a free trip to Europe?
efforts in continuing search for perfect FAI Team Racer are seen
in 3-view, pg. 42 of Design #9 (note single wheel) and Design #11
above. Paul prefers #19 "Effie Aye 9" detailed in last issue and
part of Hobby Helpers' Plan #1262.
"Go/No-go" template provides quick check on vital height-width
measurements during construction and when processing. PB credits
Phil Edwards for prop and tank ideas illustrated on #11 job. Vital
circle segments at left.
Posted July 14, 2012