The club runs an ALES (Altitude Limited Electric Soaring) competition on the second Sunday of each month. This popular competition has been designed to provide a fun way to test and develop your electric sailplane flying skills, and the rules are such that you don’t have to spend a fortune on your model to be competitive. In fact some of the most successful pilots are flying basic 2 metre 3 channel ‘Plug and Play’ models such as the Parkzone/E-flite Radian or the Tower Hobbies Vista and these models perform very well in all conditions. Both of these models have power systems well matched to ALES flying.
In a nutshell the competition typically involves flying four rounds with a maximum task duration of 6 minutes per round. Landing points are awarded for landing within the area set by the contest director and the pilot with the highest score after the four rounds wins! Pilots are split into two groups with those not flying in a particular round acting as timer/helpers for those that are flying.
Most ALES pilots have fitted a small altitude limiting unit to their models that cuts power to the motor after 30 seconds motor run time or when the model reaches a pre-set height, whichever occurs first. In the case of our club competition the pre-set height limit is 200 metres. This creates a ‘level playing field’ as all gliders start the glide phase of competition flight at the same height provided the power system is up to it!! However, if you want to give ALES a go without spending money on an altitude limiting unit first then come along anyway as your timer/helper can advise you when to cut motor power.
There are a number of altitude limiting units available on the market, the ‘CAM’ unit manufactured by Soaring Circuits in the USA is one such device and is used by many of the club’s ALES pilots. The CAM units are easy to fit, weigh a few grams and are virtually ‘plug and play’.