Most of the social events at SVSS revolve around contests.  Our contest season runs from March through November.  There are at least two contests each month during the season.  A Thermal Duration contest is held on the second Saturday of the month and an ALES contest is on the fourth Saturday.  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 contest.  The objective of each round is to fly for a precise period of time.  A timer accompanies the pilot and 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. 

Thermal Duration
Before the advent of electric launch sailplanes, all soaring contests were thermal duration or TD contests.  Planes were catapulted into the air using a rubber bungee.  Later, the development of an electric winch system replaced the bungee and that is what is used today.  While the basic concept of both TD and ALES contests remains the same, (launch, fly and land) TD incorporates a wider variety in its contest formats.  The times for each round can vary as can the landing tasks.  These are the designated by the Contest Director prior to the contest.  Click here to see the latest TD scores, photos and contest commentary.

Altitude Limited Electric Soaring

The development of high capacity batteries and efficient electric motors has led to the advent of ALES, which stands for altitude limited electric soaring.  Instead of using a winch launch system, planes are launched using their own power.  Unlike TD, the contest format for ALES is standardized for every contest.  There are four rounds and each is 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. Click here to see the latest ALES scores, photos and contest commentary.

For many, the barbecue lunch is the main attraction to our Saturday events.  Whether your interest lies in Thermal Duration or Altitude Limited Electric Soaring, camaraderie and fun are the hallmarks of SVSS events.  Check the club calendar for upcoming SVSS contests and events.  At first some are intimated by contests but remember each and every one of us, at some time attended our very first contest.  Please come out and join us!!