Australian Precision Aerobatics Masters – P&DARCS March 9-12
The Australian Masters is one of the top competitions on the Australian Precision Aerobatics calendar. It is also a round of the F3A World Cup and regularly attracts interest from both across Australia and internationally.
For 2018 the Masters was located at the Pakenham and Districts Aircraft Radio Control Society (P&DARCS) about an hour out of Melbourne. The P&DARCS club has over 100 acres of land and has been on this site since 1978 with a great setup and facilities developed over this time.
The P&DARCS club house
The event attracted over 40 entries including competitors from WA, SA, QLD, NSW, Victoria, New Zealand and even as far as France with Roland Poidevin, the creator of the Notaumatic electronic system, making the long trip to help ensure the event ran smoothly. There were 4 competitors from SA being Michael Smith (Sportsman), Dave Marriner (Advanced), Jeff Boyd and John Tonks (F3A) making this one of the biggest SA contingents in recent years.
The view back from the flight line
The official activities got underway on the Friday with the practice day providing great weather and despite the long lines all competitors got some time on the flight line and a feel for the flying site and local conditions. This was followed by a pizza dinner and early night for most ready for the competition the following morning.
The practice queue
Saturday arrived and produced near perfect conditions with warm weather and almost zero wind for the first serious rounds of the competition. This led to high scores and close competition across most of the classes. Four rounds were completed for both the Sportsman and Advanced groups, with two being completed for Expert and F3A.
Team New Zealand
The conditions on Sunday changed significantly with a strong wind blowing directly in the pilots faces for most of the day (Check this video for a sample! https://www.facebook.com/brian.dooley.52493/videos/10156321248048627/). This really increased the challenge for the pilots with the stall turns proving particularly tricky and a noticeable increase in the number of zeros with even some of the F3A pilots struggling.
By the end of Sunday the F3A pilots had finished their 4 preliminary flights with the top 10 pilots being announced for the finals the following day. SA had a strong showing here with John Tonks holding a close 2nd place and Jeff Boyd in 6th. Both the Sportsman and Advanced groups had finished their 6 flights for the competition but the results would be held until the presentations at the end of the following day.
Just some of the aircraft in attendance
Final two rounds of expert were flown on Monday morning followed by the top ten F3A Pilots advancing to fly two rounds of the Finals schedule (F19). By this stage, the wind had increased to over 20 km per hour with a blow-in diagonally from the right increasing the level of difficulty.
John was flying very well however a small error in his last flight proved costly relegating him to third position instead of a likely win. The scores at the top were very close so any mistake was costly and in the end the win was decided by only 0.12 points! Jeff, suggesting a little more finals schedule practice would have been beneficial, slipped one position to finish 7th.
The final podium results for F3A was 1st Glenn Orchard (Vic), 2nd Andrew Palmer (NZ), 3rd John Tonks (SA).
In all, the 2018 Australian Masters Championship proved to be the most successful for South Australian competitors in many years, with a win in Sportsman and Advanced classes and 3rd and 7th in the F3A class.
Michael Smith 1st place Sportsman
The F3A podium Glenn Orchard (VIC), Andrew Palmer (NZL) and John Tonks (SA)