One of my best aeromodelling experiences
In June 1976, seven Spaniards were selected by the FENDA (Spanish Federation of Aerial Sport) to attend the IV CHALLENGE INTERNATIONAL EOLE in Saint Andre de l'Eure in France. Selection was according to the Spanish F3B ranking of that year. We were all members of club "Bon Vent" (Good Wind) of Barcelona.
Our adventure starts on Thursday, June 3 at the last hour of the afternoon. At 8pm we were all on the border with France. Great problem: the Custom Officer, probably accustomed to meeting smugglers of tobacco and liquors, wasn't sure what to do with us, guys laden with 3m aeromodels and strange electronic devices. Finally a call to Colonel O'Connor (senior official at Spanish Aeromodel Federation) in Madrid solved the snag. At 10pm we continue our journey towards Paris. The convoy formed by three cars (2 Citroen Gs Break and one Simca 1200S) and eight drivers rolled uninterrupted all night to get to Evreux, 100km to the west of Paris, at 11am in the morning. After a little rest, at 5pm we were flying and getting ready our models for the next day's contest. In the flight field we met another colleague from Madrid who came on his own (Eole was an open contest).
Saturday began the contest punctually. The day was sunny with frequent thermals and the ground covered by soft grass, very different to the dry and dusty fields in Spain. It was the first time that we participated in a contest with more than 50 competitors, the organization was extraordinary and we saw that we had a lot to learn.
We quickly saw the high level of the majority of the contestants. As an example, and excuse me if I speak of myself now: I was the first Spaniard to fly, making a time of 6min05s and 100 points of landing bonus in the endurance task. Very good for 2 channel model without spoilers, but only sufficient to reach the 5th place, and the two best scored exactly 6min00s and 100 landing points!!! Later, two disastrous flies in the distance and speed tasks threw me in the middle of the definitive table.
On Sunday, the competition continued with a marathonian second round. At night we had a splendid dinner, where the champion climbed in a staircase, filling a pyramid of champagne glasses. By the way, he had the elegant gesture of ceding to the junior champion a kit of a "Libelle" of 3.5m span, that accompanied the trophy of absolute winner.
On Monday, after resting all night and having digested the dinner and the champagne, we embarked on the return trip of 1300Km, arriving at home at 2am the next day.
We were very satisfied with our good role, according to our possibilities, in IV Eole Trophy. Our relative success could be summarized up in the following points:
- We were more than a team, we were a group of friends, very united and belonging to the same club, the above mentioned "Bon Vent", exclusively dedicated to the RC sailplanes.
- Despite living in different places in Barcelona, we were flying together almost every weekend and we went to as many contests as possible.
- We were towing our gliders to each other, using the single man running method. Normally a launch height of 150m was guaranted (except when the tow hook of my model twisted!). In fact, my brother Jaume, 42 years old in 1976, was claimed as one of the best runners of the contest.
- We knew our models very well. For example: some of our Cumulus were modified, adding wash-out on the wings or exchanging the original cockpit for that of the Cirrus, more aerodynamic.
- We added ballast on the CG, or slightly further back, for the speed task. In those times, some modelers, even quite experienced but with little knowledge of aerodynamics, were trying to make their gliders faster adding ballast in the nose! Obviously the effect obtained was the opposite of the wished one.
Once at home we begin to apply the acquired experiences and lessons learned in the Eole Trophy:
- Tow hooks were reinforced and simple retention mechanisms were added to our old models to avoid inopportune unhooks.
- We began to design new F3B gliders, with better airfoils, to retire our old Cirrus/Cumulus with its flat bottom airfoils.
- We built more perfect mechanisms to visualize the "A" and "B" planes in the F3B competitions.
- We build a two sound system (portable and powered by a 12V car battery) to signalize the distance and speed F3B tasks.
- Finally, we built a powerful "Public Address" sound system, also powered by a car battery.
This field equipment, then unique in Spain, allowed us to organize for years some F3B contests, including various Championships of Spain.
A few weeks later in another F3B event In Spain, we received the congratulations of Colonel O'Connor, the official responsible for our selection. We also received 4000 pesetas (24 Euro) in cash, each of us, as a sponsoring concept. We quickly invested this money in servos, receivers, etc.
Note: The pretty daughter of Colonel O'Connor illustrates the cover of AEROMODELLER November 1967. The "On The Cover" text says: "Charming Spanish demoiselle Maria Jose O'Connor from Madrid poses with German Rudi Kessels' Veco 45 powered stunt model in front of Italian SIAT lightplane at Liege airport, Belgium during the Criterium of Aces - how's that for Internationalism?"
In October 1976, the inaugural number of the magazine "AEROSPLAI" was issued in Barcelona. The inner pages included the chronicle of "The IV Challenge Internacional Eole", written from the point of view of Jordi Ciervo, our team manager.
On the cover posed some of our group, this time on the hill of "Sta Coloma", a slope facing the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of Barcelona. From left to right: Jaume Brunet, Joan Brunet, Jordi Ciervo, Valenti Quintana (big person and another sailplane enthusiast, but not present at the Eole), Enric Belmonte, and Paco Velasco (slightly behind). Please observe the rocks on the ground at the feet of the pilots, and the landing area was not much better!!!
In summary, great memories!
Joan Brunet, May 2018, Tarragona, Spain.
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