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XC Challenge


morgy
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BMAA Cross-Country Challenge

Introduction

From 2013, the USSR is being replaced by a Challenge that runs throughout the spring and summer. It’s a cross-country league for out-and-return flights with an overnight stop. You can fly as many times as you like with your three best scores counting towards your overall score.

There will also be a fixed task based on the same principle which will coincide with a non-flying event so that there’s entertainment even if it isn’t flyable.

Included in the entry fee will be a prestigious prize-giving event in the winter months to celebrate the season’s achievements.

The Classes

There will be three classes;

Regulated microlights, which will operate a handicap system based on their published performance

Deregulated microlights, unhandicapped

Paramotors, unhandicapped.

The Task Categories

As with the USSR, you will record your track using a GPS logger, navigation GPS or even your smartphone. You will have 30 hours to fly as long and as far as possible, provided you make it back to where you started. The 30 hour limit is designed to be practicable over a weekend, but there’s no limit on when you set out. The scoring will encourage pilots to fly in groups.

The task categories will be:

Maximum distance flown, measured in legs of 20km (minimum)

Maximum distance from your start point

Maximum endurance on any one flight

The best 5-minute video taken during the Challenge.

The Fixed Task

The formula will be exactly as for the tasks above, but this task will be flown at a non-flying event, such as the Wings ‘n Wheels event at Halfpenny Green on 1 Sep. This arrangement minimises the need for organising event infrastructure, provides things to do and see if it’s not flyable, and provides an interesting addition to the host event.

There is also a possibility of organising a trade fair for deregulated microlights, and that might provide another excellent event to combine with.

Entry requirements

If you’ve read the rules, you’ll see that you must have a minimum of 30 hours’ flying (other than instruction). This Challenge isn’t about local flying: you’re only allowed to visit each landing place once on each route, so you must also be capable of planning and navigating a flight to a strange field or airfield and landing there without interfering with other users, and without flying into controlled airspace without permission. Even if you don’t have a pilot’s licence, you’ll need to know enough about air law to be aware of the limits of where you’re allowed to go, and the “rules of the road”. There’s no need to have airband radio, but if you do, you should have a licence. You will need to have access to the contact information for the fields you’re intending to visit and a phone to ring them before you set out on each flight. You'll need GPS and know how to record your track during your flights, and we encourage the use of your own GPS for navigation. You will need to be able to upload your track in GPX, IGC or NMEA format by email to the administrator. Help will be available from the organisation if you need it.

As with the USSR, we encourage you to team up with others and the scoring will reward you for flying with other pilots. So even if you’re not fully confident of setting out on long cross-countries with overnight stops you can learn from others, develop your skills and no doubt share some great adventures.

Preparation

You’ll need to register before you can start submitting track logs, and you can do that here. You’ll need to be familiar with the rules. You should take a set with you on each task as a reference, but you should be familiar with them beforehand, since you’ll need all your concentration when you’re out, planning and navigating.

The next most important things you’ll need are air charts. It’s a legal requirement to carry a relevant air chart (a GPS with air charts in its memory isn’t enough), and while there are others the CAA ones are pretty universally used. The half-million series will cover England on two maps, but the quarter-million set will give you much greater ground detail (and you’ll need lots more of them). They are available from all sorts of places; www.afeonline.com is a typical example. If you’re limited for space and weight, probably the most effective solution would be half-million maps and a GPS with all the necessary airspace information.

The other major investment you may need if you intend to visit airfields is a Flight Guide. The ones that are likely to be the most use to you are the AFE VFR Guide (from www.afeonline.com), UK Rapid Flight Guide (www.flightstore.co.uk) and the Farmstrip Guide by Bryan Lockyear (www.flightstore.co.uk). It’s theoretically possible to turn up at a strange airfield with nothing more than a telephone briefing, but the information in these is pretty much indispensable.

Registration

When you register, you’ll be asked to confirm that you’ve read and understand the rules of the Challenge. The rules are pretty clear, so there’s no point in repeating what they say.

Make sure you check NOTAMs, Purple airspace, etc, and the weather forecast for the period you’ll be flying, on which you’ll base your initial planning.

The wind direction, and in particular any forecast changes of wind direction and strength over the period of your flights will be the major factors in planning your initial route, coupled with the weather and availability of fuel. Don’t forget that you’ll need to consider getting back again, so heading off downwind isn’t necessarily the smartest thing to do.

Check out your proposed landing sites; read their entries in your flight guide, and review any controlled airspace, ATZs, MATZs and NOTAMS near where you’re planning to go.

If you’ve got radio, make sure you know the necessary frequencies. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary charts as well as batteries and backup batteries for your GPS and radio.

Task guidance

It’s a rule that, except in an emergency, you mustn’t visit the same landing site twice during a task. This is to discourage local flying, which could cause congestion and noise nuisance, and isn’t what the Challenge is for, which is to see as much of the UK (and Europe!) as possible.

This means every flight is a cross-country flight. When you’re planning, don’t forget that planning is everything! It’s really difficult to make clear-headed, well-informed changes of plan while trying to fly an aircraft - particularly one as small as ours. Before EVERY flight (in addition to all the usual pre-flight checks), make sure:

You know where you’re planning to go

You’ve rung them up (if a manned airfield) and checked they’re open and able to accept you

You know what the local features are as well as places to avoid

You know what their circuit procedures are

You know your alternatives if the weather turns nasty, or there’s some other in-flight change of conditions.

You’ll find that time on the ground whizzes by, and it’s important to concentrate on planning the next stage as soon as you’ve landed. If you’ve done your homework on the ground, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the flight itself - which is what it’s all about.

If you’ve got a video camera, don’t forget that there’s a prize for the best five-minute video based on the Challenge. Even if you’ve only got a stills camera, it’s worth taking pictures - they will act as corroboration if there’s any doubt about your GPS track, and they’ll come in useful when you write up your adventures for Microlight Flying magazine!

Additional requirements for the Fixed Task,

Briefing

There will be a mandatory briefing on the Friday evening before the start on the Saturday morning.

The Task

The task will be similar to the others, but will obviously be from the pre-defined start / finish point, and for a duration that may differ from the standard 30 hours. Otherwise, it’s up to you to get as far as possible.

Prizes

The main purpose of the Challenge is to get you all out there flying some healthy distances, hopefully with other pilots and having great adventures. But in order to give it a bit of a challenge, we’ve established prizes in all classes – paramotor, regulated and deregulated microlights - for:

The furthest straight-line distance from your starting / finishing point.

The longest duration single flight - to encourage those with good soaring performance.

The greatest distance flown - this will be the sum of all straight-line distances between takeoff and landing, not the actual track distance flown. Minimum leg lengths for scoring purposes will be 20km, and the Administrator will use the best fit of 20km+ legs to maximise scores. Generally speaking, you will have to have flown the whole way to be eligible, but you can walk / taxi to a new takeoff point if necessary.

Scoring

The detail is covered in the Rules, but in outline, after each task (series of flights in a 30-hour period), you should email your track logs along with your claims against one or more of the Task Categories to the Challenge Administrator. The Administrator will assess your track logs against your claim and enter validated claims onto a database. As you submit more track logs and claims, your aggregate score will be your best three scores in each task category over the period of the Challenge. Any scores achieved at the fixed event will be added to these sub-totals to give your final scores.

The scoring will reward flying in groups and ensure as far as possible that regulated microlights of differing performance operate on a level playing field. Again, the detail is covered in the Rules.

For full details, please refer to the Rules and Regulations. If you would like to download a copy in PDF format, please click here.

Good luck and safe flying!

Prize-giving

Over the weekend of 18/19 Jan 2014, there will be a prize giving event held at a prestigious event, to include a top quality lunch. The details will depend on the number of entrants, but you can be assured that it will be an exclusive, memorable event. Details will be publicised as soon as they are available. Additional tickets will be available to entrants if they wish to bring guests.

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For anyone reading this and is very experienced in the North West, and would be interested in taking on someone with about 50 hours in their team....

I'd like to take part in this/these events and in the process have a great time and gain experience from others.

I fly V5 Dudek Nukleon 34m but haven't used the speed system yet.

Anyone interested?

Rob

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