9th Annual San Felasco HLG Festival

San Felasco 2016 Group Picture

If you didn’t get a chance to get out to San Felasco for the 9th Annual San Felasco HLG Festival you missed a treat!

This local event it is one of the largest hand launch contests in the US. The contest took place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There were over 45 pilots registered. Pilots came from all over the US to enjoy Florida’s great February weather. Oh, and that weather? It was absolutely gorgeous! It was nice to send those northerners home with a tan!

Half-Pint 1 Meter Contest

Friday was the “half-pint” contest. This portion of the event consisted of pilots flying gliders with a maximum of 1 meter (40″) wingspan. By most accounts the “half-pint” contest may have had the most pilots flying than any other held to date!

Panorama from Friday at the 9th Annual San Felasco HLG Festival
Panorama from Friday

While the weather was beautify on Friday, at times the wind would make things a bit dicey for these smaller gliders. When they would hook up with a thermal, pilots would have to travel far downwind. The 1 meter gliders weigh around 140 grams (4.9 oz). Getting back to the field was often difficult.

Luckily the Friday contest was a warm up to the main contest which took place on Saturday and Sunday.

Main Event

Saturday's Panorama at the 9th Annual San Felasco HLG Festival
Saturday’s Panorama

On Saturday and Sunday the larger 1.5 meter discus launch gliders were pulled out to put pilots’ thermaling skills to the ultimate test.

Here’s a little more information on these discus launched gliders, or DLGs.

Stream NXT
Stream NXT

The above is a high-end DLG called the Stream NXT. This glider uses advanced carbon fiber molding techniques so that it’s all-up flying weight is just over 205 grams (7.2 oz). This particular glider when ready to fly runs around $1,000. DLGs can run from $400 on up. Going to a contest like the San Felasco HLG Festival gives you a chance to find really great deals on new and used gliders.

Many DLGs
David Henderson Had So Many DLGs He Could Have Filled a Warehouse!

Many pilots brought several gliders (costing lots of $$$ and carefully packed in padded boxes). Often a pilot sets up one glider to perform well in certain weather or flying situations. Other pilots would use a specific glider for one specific type of flying. Another big reason pilots have multiple gliders is that there is always a chance of a mid-air collision which can take these fragile planes out of flight worthiness pretty easily.

A DLG contest, categorized by the FAI as F3K, is more than just throwing a glider and finding a thermal. There are a number of different tasks that are picked which a pilot must perform throughout the contest. The pool of pilots is divided up into a number of groups. Each group performs a task until all the groups have completed that task. That completes a single round. Over the course of Saturday and Sunder 14 rounds were flown.

Thermal Indicating Streamer
Thermal Indicating Streamer

On Saturday we had a special visitor to the field. Keith Hall, an AMA Associate Vice President for District V for Florida, was in attendence. We were very happy to give Mr. Hall a chance to experience the thrill of a DLG mass launch. There’s not much quite like it!

Keep a sharp eye out while looking at the upcoming editions of the AMA magazine. Keith took many pictures. He also mentioned that the digital version of the magazine would be sure to include many photos from the event.

DLG Launch at the 9th Annual San Felasco HLG Festival
DLG Launch

All the participants were really happy with how the San Felasco

Soaring Club put on the contest. If you didn’t get a chance to come by and spectate then read up on the long RCGroups.com thread. The thread contains a multitude of recaps, scores, and photos.

All the pilots are already looking forward to the 10th edition of this great event!

San Felasco 2016 Group Picture
San Felasco 2016 Group Picture