The International Hand Launch Glider Festival 2003


Poway - what is it? - - - First Report - - - Summing Up
Joe Wurts - - - - - Red Weston

Link to the report and pictures from Oleg Golovidov who won the event.

Event Information from - Full Results

Download a .pdf file of the tasks flown at The International Hand Launch Glider Festival 2003

List of Top Ten Models Flown


On the SALglider e-mail group someone asked "Poway - what is it" - Paul Clark answered as follows:-

Poway is near San Diego, California and is the thermal flying site home of the Torrey Pines Gulls--Torrey Pines being their internationally renown slope site--a historic full scale flying site. Since 1994 they have been holding the un-OFFICIAL WORLDS of RCHLG-DHL, THE International Hand Launch Glider Festival or IHLGF. Find it all at .

This premier RC soaring club has drawn from the world's and USA's best pilots--only world champions have actually won this contest, Joe & Daryl, Joe got knocked out by Daryl one year--to this extraordinary world event over the years, the first two day RCHLG event (with four culinary busts thrown in) :-) !!

It is where in one weekend two years ago RCHLG got "turned around" by Dick Barker--SAL went DHL with "UpLink" Dick leading the pack (the year before) and heard to say, "It was more fun when I was the only one doing it." Pilots fly 10 preliminary rounds with a throw-out and then the top ten pilots, carrying their adjusted scores, fly 3 championship rounds.

This years IHLGF, the 10th & the best, well be held on June 7-8, but for the uninitiated the FUN will begin the 5th and 6th as pilots arrive and take to the field for practice (the first culinary bash is Friday night)--and the FUN will probably continue to their Poway slope nearby after the contest is over--it is FLY, FLY, FLY; GAB, GAB,GAB: and FUN, FUN, FUN and enjoy a side trip to Torrey Pines itself :-) !!

There are three classes of pilots: Open, Junior, and EAGLE (my class), i.e. over 55--but not eligible for the fly-offs, because if you are that good you should be flying Open; Eagle winner Jerry Krainock finished 7th a couple of years ago!! THE FUN is the fact that ALL pilots are flying in the same frey--I mean gaggle :-) !!

It is an EVENT, it is a FESTIVAL of RCHLG-DHL FUN flying CAMARADIRIE--what it was intended to be from the beginning!!

Paul Clark, SKY PILOT, Osaka, Japan (AMA # 53 777 1)

Report from Tom Clarkson, taken from, with thanks

It was another great year for the International Handlaunch Glider Fest in Poway CA. The contest was particularly challenging this year with overcast conditions through the contest with alternating very light and moderate lift. There was also not as much wind this year resulting in many fewer off field landings. In many ways the extra challenging conditions made for a better contest than in most years since the conditions made achieving the tasks difficult. However as a reflection of the quality of the field you could expect someone to make the tasks in each heat.

Contestants were well represented from around the world coming from as far away as New Zealand and Japan.

Congratulations to Oleg winning the contest this year and pulling off the seemingly impossible - Beating Joe Wurts after 9 consecutive wins at the IHLGF.

The ships flown this year were a mix of aileron planes and polys with the aileron planes in the majority. From a technical standpoint most of the development seemed to be evolutionary. Planform development to get some better performance, larger rudders to gain better launch height, and improved construction techniques to allow stronger throws. As always the planes continue to improve from year to year.

A special achievement award was presented to Mark Drela for his contribution to the development of HL planes by making XFOIL available to modelers, his development efforts (many planes flew his airfoils), and his quality and educational posts.

The contest is quite an event. Nothing like seeing 14 pilots on the field in man on man competition. Or watching Oleg and Joe dual it out in the fly offs. Or seeing that Mark Drela not only knows how to design great airplanes but also knows how to fly them. Or watching Phil Barnes awesome throws. Or the gutsy downwind runs. So, if you haven't had a chance to participate, mark your calendars now. It is always the first full weekend in June.

The full scores by round will be posted on the TPG web site

Tom Clarkson
TPG Handlaunch Coordinator

Comments by John Erickson, taken from, with thanks

After a day's rest and unpacking, some reflections on the event. Always my favorite contest of the year for a number of reasons. Good friends, very tight competition, constant innovation and evolution, well organized and fun.

The TPG club has running a major contest down to a science. Between the technical backing of Tom Clarkson, the enthusiasm of Ron Scharck and all the volunteers the overall experience for the average pilot is one seamless, entertaining event. On Saturday morning Garth Warner gave us instructions for transmitter impound. It was one of the funnier speeches I've heard. Faced with the task of turning over 500 transmitters throughout the weekend, Mr. Warner announced that distractions to his job were not advised, that he was not good at "multi-tasking" and finally he wasn't a "people person". That set the tone for the job they had to do, and throughout the weekend I don't recall one incident of a transmitter mess up.

With 6 heats to every round, 10 rounds, 14 pilots per heat the impound area was a hornet's nest. For the pilots between flying and timing for others, you were fairly busy most of the day. It didn't take very long to see how you were doing as round scores were posted at the most 5 minutes after each round was complete. As in the past, you were allowed one throw out.

Saturday morning was a prime example of "June gloom", the antithesis to the Santa Ana conditions we have in the winter. Here the inland heats up and draws moisture off the cold Pacific resulting in a dense fog. As the day progresses and the the two masses balance out, the winds kick in. Something like that, meteorologically speaking. Thermals were thin and topped off by the wind. If you could get above a certain height conditions improved, but it wasn't easy doing this. The best bet was going way downwind where the hill and trees seemed to break things up. As performance has increased, the TPG CD's have moved the back line up from what 4 years ago was the road to the current spot in the middle of the field. Getting home from the downwind foray is always in the back of your mind. To add a twist, the farmer who owns the land at the east end of the field had planted oats, and if your plane went down the TPG had a special "Oat Patrol" of one man who would retrieve the plane. I think only one guy lost a plane in the oats, but the net effect was like a big water hazard on a golf course.

There was an advantage in these conditions to someone who could launch very high and surf, or someone adept at working light, broken lift. If you didn't make up your mind as to your flight plan, you were sunk. There were not many "saves" during the day (okay, Lex. One good one!). This is where guys like Joe and Oleg really shined. Joe had a perfect 6,000 points for the day. Other east coasters like Phil Barnes, Tom Keisling and Don Vetters seemed right at home with the conditions and did very well.

Sunday weather wise was a different story. Although still a bit foggy, there wasn't the flat cloud cover that dominated the day on Saturday. The sky opened up and you had "traditional" Poway weather. I had made so many mistakes on Saturday that it was going to be very hard to get in the top ten. I had four perfect rounds on Sunday, but that wasn't enough. I ended up in 11th place. This isn't so bad, however. I had the pleasure of timing for Mark Drela in the fly offs and watching the Super Gee do it's thing. For all the technical advancements that Dr. Drela has brought to the hobby, he also is an excellent pilot. He flew beautiful flat thermal turns in the rocky conditions and the plane floated like a leaf. He ended up in 5th, and for his first contest on the west coast I think he was pretty happy.

Joe finally made some mistakes in a fly off, and though very small mistakes, enough for Oleg to pass him. Oleg flew great, and deserved the win. You talk about splitting hairs; the whole weekend could come down to one guy landing 20 seconds earlier than another on one flight out of fifty.

There wasn't one design that dominated the event. Because of different flying styles and conditions, you had different planes. I will say that 9 of the top 10 flew planes that had camber changing. There were a lot of XP-3's, Taboo's, Encores, Photons. More than that, however, were home mades or at least home "modified". A lot of tweaking and subtle changes to suit the pilot's taste. I'm sure with a ballasted fixed wing plane you could make it home from downwind, but it is just easier having a fast foil. It still came down to the pilot. I can go on and on about each plane, but it was all in the pilot's hands at the end of the day.

Bill Watson kept us entertained with his innovations, including an asymmetric wing that flew very well, and his 100" discus launch plane flown during lunch. He also had a micro sized bi plane that weighed about an ounce complete with machine gun audio as it buzzed the pits.

There were also demonstrations put on by RC Direct with a 3D electric helicopter mowing the field upside down powered by Li-Poly's, some very fast foamie jets, a mylar parachute that thermalled off the field, some cool scale went on and on.

It was great to meet the "quiet" guys from New Zealand (hardly), see Paul Clark all the way from Japan, Mario from Brazil, all the guys who came across country, the Seattle contigent and our local "DLG Mafia" posse. Who knows how long TPG will hold the Poway field; there are plans for development. Right now it feels like the hey day of the event and I will certainly be back next year.


Comments by Joe Wurts, taken from, with thanks

Subject: IHLGF - belated email

Once again, another great event put on by the TPG. This is definitely THE HLG event of the year, a must attend for the HLG fanatic.

It was fun to watch the steady improvements by all of the fliers. Every year, the level of competition gets better. Oleg finally made good on his promise, and won the gold with a great performance.

The weather made it a fliers contest. The days preceding the contest showed the more normal "stupid" lift, but the actual contest days had some more challenging air. BTW, "stupid" lift is lift that you have to be stupid to miss... :-) The last two years have had challenging conditions, which is fine by me.

I was quite pleased with the prototype molded Encores that I received just before the event. Great planes, with performance and handling characteristics that make it easy to fly. The new slip-on nose cone fuselage that Phil Pearson put together makes life a bit easier. Don't have to fuss with everything to adjust stuff anymore.

It was great to finally meet Dr. Drela in person. After inspecting his immaculate planes, I'm of the opinion that all of us mortals are just amateur builders. The littlest detail on his model is elegantly engineered, and built exactly as required.

After Saturday with a near perfect day on the field, I was of the opinion that I had flown at a level higher than my skill/practice. This was evidenced on Sunday, where Oleg took advantage of my little mistakes in the flyoff to return the favor of his narrow defeat a couple of years ago. I felt lucky to have placed in second place after one of the flyoff flights where plane returned to the field at the perfect time with no altitude to spare. Returning from over a quarter mile downwind, where you start with about 50 feet of altitude is not something to be repeated. Without Gordon Jennings expert guidance on the return, I would have dumped the plane in the Oats. His calling helped my performance throughout the entire weekend, thanks Gordon!

I can't wait for next year to get a chance at dethroning the new champ. With that thought, I will be heading to the NATs this year to try to remove the stars from Olegs eyes at HLG in Muncie!

This makes it official. I am now the "first loser" in four disciplines at the same time. (current 2nd place holder in F3J WC, F3B WC, F3K via the IHLGF, and F3F via the Viking Race). Guess I should try to get sponsorship from Avis.


Comments by Red Weston, taken from, with thanks

Poway Report (with a Seattle slant)

here's my report to the Seattle Area Soaring Society, I figured I could share with the SAL list too, if you're interested... Here's some pictures too:

The International Hand Launch Glider Festival is held annually the first weekend in June. The contest is hosted by the Torrey Pines Gulls ( and the field where the competition is held is in Poway California, about 15 miles north of downtown San Diego. This contest, while perhaps not officially, is considered by most folks in the HLG community to be the Big One! Contestants show up from across the country and also from around the world!

The Seattle HLG contingent has been pilgrimaging to Poway since about 1994 (the second year of the competition), and have always found it well worth the trip. Competitors from Seattle have finished in the top ten on several occasions, but have found the reigning champion (Joe Wurts, usually) hard to beat. None-the-less, we keep heading back to give it our best!

This year's contestant roster boasted several of the big names in the HLG Community, Joe Wurts (world champion in everything gliders, design work on Encore), Phil Barnes (from the East Coast builds most of NSP's wings and things), Oleg Golovidov (from Russia, via North Carolina, designer of the Taboo HLG), Mark Drela (MIT Professor, Xfoil author, designer of the Supergee and others), Our own Phil Pearson (designer and builder of the Encore HLG), Gordon Jennings (World class glider competitor), George Joy (owner of Peak Electronics), Paul Naton (Radio Carbon Art), Chris Adams ( website), and others from Canada, Brasil, and even New Zealand! From Seattle, we also had Jim Pearson, Mark and Jonathan Bryan, Tim Johnson, Bruce Kimball, and myself.

The field in Poway is several miles inland from the ocean, so it has a curious mix of wet Pacific air and dry desert air. Traditionally, Poway has boomer thermals, and gut wrenching sink, scorching sun, and blasting winds. Poway gives you the opportunity to see how quickly your plane can go out of sight down wind, and then be thrown into sink and land 1/2 mile off field!

But not this year!!! For those of you familiar with California, they have something called June Gloom. We all arrived in San Diego (half of us flew down, the others drove, about 21 hours if you drive straight there) to overcast skies. We like to get our planes tuned up a couple of days early, Thursday had awesome lift, with 'stupid' thermals everywhere. The clouds kept things tuned down as far as sink and wind, so it was easy thermaling for all! Friday was more of the same, maybe a little less lift, but we had everything tuned for landing quickly since it was going to be all up while we were flying! Fat dumb and happy, we headed for hamburgers Friday night.

Then came Saturday morning. It was still overcast but there were no thermals! The contest started at 9am, and there was only light lift. Those stupid thermals had all gone away and all that was left were the light, wily ones. It was going to take some good piloting to do well on Saturday. We flew six rounds on Saturday (tasks were: 8-one minute flights; one, two, three, four; 5-twos; etc.) and Seattle was doing really well, I was in 11th (one out of the fly-offs) and Jim was in 21st, but only 130 points out. We all went to bed thinking, yeah, we know all about light lift.

Sunday, you guessed it, more clouds and fog, a light mist, and cool. Light thermals, if you aren't in it, you aren't going to get your times. So, a little focus and Red's in the fly-offs, and Jim's got a chance too. Well, Red flies about as well as he flew on Saturday, and everyone else flies a lot better than they did on Saturday, and Red ends up in 20th, Jim flies a bit better and ends up in 15th. The rest of the gang did well too, Tim Johnson was in 26th at the end, Bruce was 35th, Mark in 36th, Phil was in 50th and Jonathan was in 58th... BUTTTT Jonathan was signed up in the Eagle class and was in fourth as an Eagle, only one place out of the trophies!!!

That's the Seattle story, so what happed with with the rest of the contestants... The IHLGF format is 10 rounds with one throw-out and then a 3 round fly-off with the top 10 fliers (you carry your score into the fly-offs). For the first 10 rounds it was the Joe Wurts show. He was flying the New Molded Encore that Phil (Pearson) built for him a couple of weeks earlier. Joe won every round (1000 pts) except for the 10th were he got a 998! Oleg was flying quite well (it might have been his timer (me) calling lift for him, but he's a real good pilot all by himself too;-). He had seven 1000 pt rounds a 995, 997 and a throw-out (971), he was second going into the fly-offs. In third was Phil Barnes with his strong planes and his monster throw. Phil Barnes (East Coast Phil) was one of the highest throwers. BTW, Every single pilot down there was throwing Seattle-style, discus launch that is (Thanks Dick, we missed you this year)!

Also in the top 10 were Paul Anderson, Mark Drela, Arthur Markiewicz, Bill Watson, Craig Greening, Don Vetter, and Michael Smith. It was going to be an exciting Fly-off. Joe had it wrapped up, if he could just keep flying perfect! Round 11 had some rough air, the task was five-two minute flights, Phil Barnes would win that round, and Joe dropped several seconds with 967, Oleg had a 994... there WAS a small chink in Joe's armor!

Oleg and his stalwart timer went into the second round of the fly-offs with some hope, but only a little, Joe wasn't likely to drop many more like that. The task was three-three minute flights in a 10 minute window, so the pilots had 1 extra minute to play with, but if you threw more then 3 times, there was a 30 second penalty! Most of the pilots waited after the start of the round, but as I remember, Oleg thought he had something and headed out early in the round... he didn't get all of his 3's (ending up at 929), and Joe flew a perfect 1000. There were several other 1000's scattered among the rest of the fly-off contestants, there would be some reshuffling before the end of the day.

But at the top, Joe was a lock, he just had to fly the 1, 2, 3, and 4, and walk over and pick up the trophy for the umpteenth time. Oleg knew he had to fly well just to keep 2nd place! Then it happened, Oleg flew well, getting most of the times, and Joe ran into some sink, turned around to make it a 1 minute flight, and then threw back into the same sink!!! He couldn't make his two minute flight, and that was all she wrote. Oleg won the round (1000), and passed Joe (937) to win the contest by 13 points (out of 12,000!). Paul Anderson captured 3rd from Phil Barnes (finished in 4th) and Mark Drela was in 5th, you can see the final scores on the Torrey Pines site.

So, that's the long and short of it. Poway is the place to be the 1st weekend in June. If you get the chance, you've got to be there! The head-to-head nature of HLG makes for a pretty exciting contest, and the three round fly-off is probably as exciting as it gets in R/C competition!

Ironic billboard of the weekend (seen on East Marginal Way near Boeing Field in Seattle) : 'Come see what the Space Needle points to (and there's a picture of the smiling sun), Visit San Diego.' Yeah, right! I did see the sun again, four days after arriving in San Diego, Sunday evening as I headed north to fly at Parker Mountain north of LA. BTW, Parker is awesome for DS. You've got to go there!

I'll throw some pictures up on the website


Adam Weston Seattle, WA