PANEL DISCUSSION: CLASS COMPETITION

BIKLE - MOFFAT - SMITH - HOLIGHAUS

PAUL BIKLE: I have tried to look at most of the classes we now have and that we have been talking about and determine what these mean and find some sort of rationale that makes sense to me. In most cases, the idea that I've been able to arrive at is that a lot of people want to do it this way and that's possibly a good enough reason if they make up their minds what they want to do and what the class is. I think the class that has been around the longest is the 1-26. Those people get together and fly 1-26's and from what I've seen of that operation it is a pretty good operation. They have a lot of fun and I think their competition and get-togethers are real good. I've had correspondence with Charlie Shaw on this and about the only thing that seems a little illogical, compared to the other classes (by not very much), is that they make a great point of the fact they are going to be flying one design sailplanes and these are all fully certified and everybody has the same kind of sailplane. I have noticed that when they show up for competition Almost every ship in the contest is flying overweight and the degree to which they are flying overweight is not controlled in any fashion. Depending on the weather you can get as different a sailplane by adding weight as you can by having a different design. On the whole it looks to me like the 1-26 association has a good class competition and a pretty good class setup.

I must say that when I try to look at the rationale of the FAI Standard Class, I am at a complete loss. When I read the first two paragraphs of the FAI code that describes what is a Standard Class sailplane, I feel these are very laudable objectives and if the class actually achieved that I would see the rationale to it. As I tend to summarize those two paragraphs, it says that this is going to provide a simple, cheap, easy to fly sailplane suitable for club use. I think the class departed from those objectives long ago.

One of the biggest factors is real honesty in stating objectives and setting up criteria for obtaining those objectives. If I were one to push Standard Class and was interested in it, I would have been completely incensed about the course that the FAI has taken in the last few years. As far as I can make out of the situation, the German manufacturers just chose to ignore the speed brake requirement in the FAI Standard Class. The direction that they are going is probably fairly good but the fact that one group can unilaterally make a change and their sailplanes be admitted to competition for years before the rule gets changed sort of takes away the whole sense of the class as far as I am concerned. Certainly if I had built a sailplane that didn't meet the rules I would not have been able to enter it. There have been manufacturers in this country and other countries that have gone to the trouble to build sailplanes to meet the rules, and they fly a competitive handicap because they did.

In any event, we don't have a sailplane in the FAI Standard Class which does what the objectives lay out that it should do. They certainly are not cheap sailplanes. They tend to heavy wing loadings, high landing speeds, and I feel in the long run they are going to have a higher incidence of landing damage (no pun intended - Ed.). You have probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30, 40 times, in some cases even more, energy to dissipate than you would have with a sailplane that could be designed and built just as cheap--probably cheaper--and would land a lot slower and have better low speed capability.

On the other hand, my impression from looking at the sailplanes is that they are nice sailplanes. They are certainly pleasant to have but I guess my main objection is that they don't seem to fit the stated objectives. I think they ought -to either change the objectives and figure out what they are trying to do, or else if they like what they've got then we would probably get rid of these sailplanes entirely. Although that tends to be sort of philosophical, the fact remains that we have large numbers of these sailplanes. Can the rules be change to fit them. The class seems to be gaining in popularity and I think that is plenty of reason for people to have a class. I would feel much more comfortable if the class did what the rules said.

A comment about going to an 18-meter class. Some people have talked about an 18.3-meter class and Klaus mentioned yesterday a 20-meter class. There really isn't any rationale for any of this type of thing, that is, any overriding rationale. The Germans have apparently decided that 20 meters is what it is going to be and they are building 20-meter sailplanes. I really don't have any objection to that except, once again, I object to the idea that we will probably have some sort of 20-meter class officially or unofficially just because the manufacturers chose to do it that way. Some more people would like an 18-meter class because they feel that would top these newer ships and it makes what you might call a home for the numbers of fiberglass ships in the Diamant, Kestrel and Phoebus classes which were sold in this country two, three, or four years ago. I have noticed that there is some indecision there as to whether to make it 18 or 18.3 meters (so it will include the ASW-12).

This type of thing shows a perfectly natural personal bias depending upon what type of ship you happen to own and I really don't think classes should be decided on that basis. Or maybe it should--if the people who want to do it that way want to get together and do the work of planning one class and having a squadron like they do in the class designs in sailboats. Those people have a tremendous amount of fun and I think that is fine.

This thing on the FAI Standard Class, however, has gotten way beyond that and is being argued about what is going to be the dominant type of competition activity in this country. I think we could Just let it ride and it will take care of itself anyway. It is probably not one of those things that's going to be legislated.

In general, in classes, I would feel much more comfortable about any class if I could sit down and say, well this is the obJective of the class and by putting limitations number one, two, three, and four, I am going to pursue that objective. I Just don't see that the way it is now.

GEORGE MOFFAT: I think that at the moment we have need for three classes as I see it. The Open Class seems to be self evident, I think particularly in America where there has always been a strong interest in having the biggest and the best. If I interpret Klaus' remarks correctly yesterday, it looks as if we're going to be flying 20-meter ships for the next five years or so in the Open Class, and I think as has happened repeatedly, these ships will offer very, very close competition once everybody begins to get them. Now, school teachers are probably not going to fly in this class. I'm not. I have a sort of basic rule of thumb--I don't like to be flying more than a year's salary at a time.

I feel that there's a very great need for Open Class and I do not feel that there is much need for an 18-meter class. I probably wouldn't feel that way if I still had a 17.6 meter ship. There really aren't that many 17-6 meter ships around.

I'd like very much to see a 15-meter racing class and by that I think I may remark a bit further ~ I think that's what the Standard Class is rapidly turning into. I would like to see it continue to turn into it so we would have very good Standard Class 15-meter ships instead of sort of halfway Jobs, as Dick Schreder knows so well in his efforts to try and get flaps. We all know, especially the Americans, that the 15-meter so-called Standard Class would be an infinitely safer and better ship if we were allowed to have 90 flaps for landing. Landing in most of the new Standard ships can get quite exciting in a short field. We now make a far better device and we've had years and years of practice with it. I have, myself, many hundreds of hours flying with flapped ships. I see no reason why we should not have these devices on what is now called the Standard Class.

The Standard Class in my estimation Just plain hasn't worked. It hasn't worked for a real simple reason. It hasn't worked because when the pleasant and rather naive people started this some 14 years ago they didn't think they needed a very tight rule. They thought, well, we'll all be good chaps together and somebody will develop a nice little Ka-6 and all wound be well. But, of course then came better sailplanes. First we had Fokas and we had Edelweisses and so on down to the present. Since that's what we've got, I feel that we might as well go the rest of the way and Just say, O.K., 15 meters is the only limit--do what you want within that. If we do that, we need a third class. This is what Paul was talking about.

We need a one design class. We need a good one design class. Sorry Paul Schweizer. The 1-26 is a fine concept but it is a horrible one design class for the very reason Paul says. If I were flying in 1-26 competition I would try and find ship number two which weighs about 350 pounds. I certainly would not want to fly whatever is the latest model which as I recall goes to 440. That's a lot of difference. I can always put the lead in to get the earlier one up to the latest, but gee, it's hard to take it back out again on these weak days. Any of you ever fly against Bud Briggs who weighs 120 pounds, flying around in his 350 pound 1-26 at 29 mph? It's an experience on a weak days He Just sort of sits there and wafts slowly vertically up. You waft quite rapidly vertically down. Very interesting.

I feel, especially after talking with Dick and Klaus, it would be possible to design a very interesting 13-meter ship for a 43 foot ship for a one design class, but, let me get something really straight on one thing in the beginning. You must have a very, very good rule. Because if there's one thing we've learned from all the sailing classes, it's that the ones with tight rules are good and the ones with loose rules are hopeless. Ones with loose rules--the Thistle Class is a fairly good example - is a sign that a lot of people don't care very much as long as the class does not draw top competitors. As soon as a class does, like the Olympic classes, then people start working to the limits of the rule-and then you'd better have a darn good rule.

The wing loading that Paul brought up--the obvious example; you would have to have minimum wing loading for a really good Standard Class--about 25 pounds or thereabouts. If you happen to be Bud Briggs or somebody who is light, you are way ahead. You've got to take that built-in advantage away Just as they do for horse racing.

KLAUS HOLIGHAUS: Certainly in the past months we have heard from England several proposals about introduction of new competition classes at 17-meter Open Class, without flaps, l9-meter class, and unlimited classes. I'm not quite sure about the advantages for the competition pilot they expect with such different classes. I think the competition will become less attractive as we add more classes. You see, it is this way in Germany and we will fly next year with two classes only. There is no question about the Standard Class. This class has established itself in the past years very well and has reached a very high level of performance especially since the retractable gear has been allowed. There are still some questions open about the efficiency of the air brake but I hope the coming CIVV meeting at Paris will bring us a good compromise. As most of you may already have seen, air brakes on the upper surface of the wing only, as used recently for the first time on the Standard Cirrus are very effective in low speeds, that means for landing, and not as effective for vertical dives. I, myself, hope that the coming CIW meeting will cancel the necessity of the 90 vertical dive as was already done at the World Championships at Marfa.

More and more pilots are crying for water ballast tanks in the Standard Class gliders since they have heard that Reichmann put 90 pounds of lead into his fuselage during flying at Marfa. I am sure it would be a great improvement for the Standard Class glider if this disposable ballast would be allowed in future competitions. The pilot would have more possibility of changing his glider's performance. I, myself, have preferred flying with extremely high wing loadings for several years. If there win be a chance of changing the rules in this direction, Standard Class will become more effective once more and the difference in performance between Standard Class and Open Class gliders will become smaller once more.

Regarding the Open Class, I have two opinions--one as designer and one as a competition pilot. As designer I would like to have no restrictions as it was in the past years. Without the restrictions the designer would not be restricted for new development. Limits of span and aspect ratio would be set only by strength requirements of new materials. One direction of development, of course, would be to change the wing span. As competition pilot, I agree with most of all pilots that we need a regulation which will make it impossible in the future to win a competition only by using the glider with extreme wing span which would allow a better performance of five or ten percent against all normal Open Class gliders. Because of astronomical price such extreme gliders would never become available on the market for the normal pilot. As competition pilot and as manufacturer of sailplanes, I am glad about the brand new German regulation with the one percent per meter score reduction for a glider with span more than 20 meters and score elevation for less than 20 meters. We are not sure if one percent per meter is too much or too low. This question can be answered by further competitions only. But with more experience we will find the best value. We hope that this kind of regulation will stabilize the Open Class competition and will not stop the development of super gliders with high span.

On the other side, this regulation will help to keep the value and the secondhand price of all already flying and in future coming Open Class gliders. It will not be any more necessary to change one's Open Class glider every year in order to have a chance against newer types.

A. J. SMITH: Obviously we wouldn't be having a discussion about class competition if there weren't considerable pressure already. I don't respond to that pressure as an individual competition pilot but I do respond to pressure as a director of the Soaring Society or as an individual concerned about the welfare of other competition pilots. The pertinent question to me seems to be how many competition pilots are we really going to have in the foreseeable future? And to me the answer is, really not enough to develop good class type competitions. Another question that comes to mind is, how does the concept of producing and marketing sailplanes at reasonable prices fit into the business of class competition? The answer, to me, (Paul touched on it ~~ and I think Klaus is unwilling to recognize) is that class competition is indeed already being affected by the marketing aspects that the manufacturer faces. I am convinced that we are indeed in danger of being led around by the nose by the manufacturers. And I'm afraid I get to be of two minds at this point because I'm sympathetic to the manufacturer's problems. I think we should all be sympathetic to their problems because we've got to have them in business if we're going to have sailplanes. But at the same time, I feel that they should be sympathetic to our problems, particularly to the problem where the individual who already has a sailplane, but who, unfortunately, has been forced to buy a second sailplane in order to be competitive and already now begins to be considering the third one. The costs are indeed unreasonable.

One area, I think, needs some clarification. There should be some distinction in these discussions more than just a semantic one of difference between one design competition and the general class type of competition we are talking about. These things are somewhat different but at the same time seem to overlap. If you consider the few pilots involved and the small market involved, the chances for a one design competition are slight, in my opinion. They exist pretty well in the 1-26 areas, perhaps in the K-6 area and perhaps in some others. I think when we consider the number Of pilots who are going to be involved we can begin to recognize, for the benefit of those people who feel that one design is extremely important, that the current Standard Class, even with its many variations, is in essence very close to a one design competition. I think it's much more important to consider class kinds of competition and learn and understand the factors that are involved. Both Paul and George have touched on and weighed these in one fashion or another. George's comments about controlling wing loading as a sailplane starts is obviously carrying out the conception close to its limit.

I proposed, many, many years ago, another step in that direction and I proposed it with the understanding that it not be called the Smith Handicapping System. Maybe nit would have been better if I had proposed it as the Smith Handicapping System because then people would have started shooting arrows and it would have gotten some attention. I simply said that at the very least we ought to have the sailplanes, particularly the smaller Standard Class, carry the equivalent of a 170 pound pilot. Extremely simple goal to achieve. I have one other point to make. This is the kind of handicapping that I think we should talk about if we're going to talk about any handicapping. A handicapping system that brings everybody into line in a per- formance bracket, and in a wing loading bracket, and all of these sorts of things, before he begins the flight. I think any other handicapping system that I've heard discussed so far tends to try to equate somehow sailplanes of different levels of performance, and as I say again and again--hogwash--you can't do it.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question: George, what are your ideas on setting up a one design class?

Answer: (Moffat) I suspect that if this one design thing comes about that it should be sponsored by SSA and I further imagine that SSA would find itself in a policing function. Some of the things they can do are to have some rather simple checks that you can use on a contest site--a profile of wing section forms to make sure the wing section is still what it is supposed to be, etc. The other is to license manufacturers under the SSA ruling with spot inspections and the knowledge that their license could be lifted for infringements. This has worked reasonably successfully in many of the boat racing classes.

Question: (Bob Tresslar) Klaus, please comment on the German attitude toward flaps.

Answer: (Holighaus) We are not against flaps in Germany. The CIW prohibited the use of flaps I think for the last six years. That's not from the manufacturer. No. I, myself, use 90 flaps on the Nimbus so I'm really not against it. But I am against the 90 vertical dive requirement for gliders of such high performance.

Question: (Rob Buck) The is a question to Mr. Holighaus. I have been an advocate of this 13-meter class and people have occasionally said to me that there is a certain span that is too small. In other words, the performance begins to decrease very rapidly after you get too small. Do you have an idea about at what span this begins?

Answer: (Holighaus) I think this begins already at 15 meters.

Comment: (Moffat) Of course the key here is how much less performance you will accept in order to get a lighter weight, more convenient size, lower cost, etc. You could use the same argument to say that some of the 15-meter ships are unacceptable because they are not as good as the Nimbus. It isn't as good as the Nimbus. No question about it. But on the other hand it is a very nice ship to fly and does have very adequate performance. Some of you might not know of a ship built by Akafleig Stuggart about five years ago. It was 226 pounds empty, 13 meter span, had a glide ratio of just under 35 and placed eighth in the German Nationals Open Class.

Comment: (Holiguaus) The maximum pilot weight I think was 140 pounds.

Comment: (Byars) Incidentally, I understand that Glasflugel decided against the 13-meter ship because it only costs a Couple of hundred bucks less than the 15-meter.

Question: (Leo Buckley) I have been wondering why nothing has been mentioned about the comfort and safety factors such as cockpit size, visibility, ground clearance, etc. To me this is one of the most important parts of any Standard Class rules. Would the panel comment please?

Answer : (Bikle) The kind of things you are talking about were certainly the kind of things I had in mind that would make a rationale that I could accept. We have a problem trying to define what we want in American design competition. I agree these things are very important.

Question: (Bob Buck) In regard to dive brakes and 90 and 45 or upside down, or whatever you want to make it, has anyone considered the idea of having a landing requirement, that is, a sailplane must be able to come in over an obstacle and stop in a certain distance and Just leave it that way and do it any darn way you want. Has that ever been considered? Because I think these things do land faster and they do get more hazardous all the time. The Regionals at Cumberland proved it.

Answer: (Bikle) Yes, I certainly agree with that Bob, but I wouldn't recommend that type of approach because we've had that in military airplanes for a long time and the demonstration of meeting that requirement gets to be more of a stunt on the part of the test pilot. We had one of our test pilots that likened that type of an operation to standing on the tenth floor and seeing how far you can lean out a window, and after he fell out, well that proved he can't lean any further out. In the history of our acceptance testing in the military, the number of crashed airplanes would tend to verify that type of thing.

Now, getting at that same problem in a different way, once again getting into design competition, we do intend to have a requirement of that nature in there and we intended to approach it by picking an airplane that we felt had good short field landing characteristics and I forget now Just which one it was but it might have been the Diamant with the slow speeds and the good speed brakes and the flaps. We did say that the airplane had to be able to land as short as the Diamant did or else we wouldn't even consider it.


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