ALES Electric Contests
Altitude Limited Electric Soaring, or ALES, is an electric man-on-man contest format. There are typically four rounds each being 10 minutes long. Similar to TD, a landing tape is used for award landing points. The main difference in ALES is the use of an on-board electronic “limiter” that cuts power to the motor after 30 seconds of run-time or when the plane has reached a preset altitude.
Thermal duration, or TD, contests were flown long before electric planes came on the scene. TD planes were catapulted into the air using a rubber bungee. Later, the development of an electric winch system replaced the bungee. While the basic concept of both TD and electric contests is similar (launch, fly and land) TD does not require multiple pilots to all launch at the same time. The times for each round can vary as can the landing tasks.
F5J Electric Contests
F5J is another electric man-on-man contest format similar to ALES in some respects but very different in others. In bigger F5J contests there are 10 minute qualifying rounds followed by 15 minute flyoff rounds. Unlike ALES where everyone launches to the same height, in F5J you get a penalty that increases with your launch height. So there is an increased emphasis on thermaling skills and less on landings.
Most of the social events at SVSS revolve around contests. Our contest season runs from February through December. There are at least two contests each month during the season. A Thermal Duration contest is held on the second Saturday of the month, an ALES contest on the fourth Saturday, and F5J contests usually every few months. For most contests signup is at 9:30, followed by a brief pilot’s meeting at 9:45 with the first flight at 10:00.
Each contest is comprised of a series of individual flights called rounds. Typically there are 4 – 6 rounds in each monthly contest. The objective of each round is to fly for a precise period of time. A timer accompanies the pilot with a stopwatch and measures the flight time from launch to landing. The best score is earned when the plane lands exactly at the end of the specified time. A spot landing earns extra points at the completion of the flight. Based upon where the nose of the plane comes to rest, landing points are determined from a graduated fabric landing tape.
Be sure to check our club calendar for upcoming events. Don't be intimidated if you have never flown in a contest. Please come out and join us!!