A A A

General notes from Graham Fox, one of our Club Examiners.

I would like to start  by saying, that the A and B scheme is for EVERYONE. Not just the so called 'best' flyers in the club!

The Achievement scheme 'A' certificate has been set up so  that we can test pilots to make sure that they meet a safe minimum standard and  are competent to fly safely, unsupervised (not alone).

The Achievement scheme 'B' certificate is more complex. It is  set up to show that you have gained more flying and aerobatic skills.

 

The misconception with the 'B' is that it is not needed, as it is only a “SHOW”licence. Yes, it will enable  you to fly at public shows, but it is more than that.

The 'B' in my opinion, is well worth the extra effort. Your general flying skills will improve. Your understanding of safety will also be very good. Also, the personal satisfaction of being able to say “I have  my B” to your club mates.

Now that I have pointed out what it is all about, let's have  a look at the  FIXED WING 'A'  I will go through each manoeuvre, how to do it and what I am  looking for as a Examiner. I will point out  some  of the normal mistakes and how to avoid them.

One point that goes for the whole test, is try to calm down  as much as you can, and try not to rush through it thinking “lets get it over  as soon as I can”. I do understand that you will be nervous, but the test only  lasts a few minutes.

You are officially allowed two attempts in one day, this is  so that if you have engine problems or make a   mistake on your first go, all will not be lost.

The first thing is a pre flight check.  

This will be a complete check over the model to see if there  are any parts that have been damaged on the way to the field, and it is safe to  fly.

Control surfaces, hinges, linkages, props and motors all  need to be checked over.  You should have got your frequency peg on the pegboard by  now if you are not on 2.4ghz. Go through the control surface check, to see if they are  moving in the correct direction and are smooth.

If any thing is found. The best thing would be to ask me to  stop the test, until the problem is fixed. I will not count this as an attempt.

The next part is the walk out to the flight line.                

You may want some one to help carry the model for you. This is OK. Once the model is on the run way, you are ready  for the next part.

The next part is flying the model.                

Take off and complete a left or right hand circuit and  overfly the take-off area.

What I am looking for is that you have a good look around  before take off, this is just to see if all is OK. The take off should be smooth, climbing to a height of  about  30 or 40 meters and then complete  a right or left circuit and over fly the take-off area at this height(depending  on wind direction).

The usual mistakes that are made:-

  • The pilot flys too slowly and can even stall!

What I say  is:- Try to fly at your normal speed and height that you are comfortable with.

  • The pilot flys a large circuit.

Try not to make it too big. Why I say this is, if I can't see it, I might fail you as you are not in full  control of your model.

  • The pilot flys a small circuit.

I don’t want it on top of us  either. This will be the same for all of the test.

Flying the figure of 8. Notes.The diagram is showing the manoeuvre viewed from above. The crossover point is in front of the pilot.
This again will be  done at the same speed and height.                

The most common mistakes are:

  • Not       very round.
  • The       crossover is not in front of the pilot.
  • Just       too slow and being blown of course if the wind is blowing.
  • Try       not to go too big with 8's, as you can misjudge the crossover

The Landing manoeuvre.                

Fly a rectangular circuit and approach, with appropriate use  of the throttle, perform a landing on the designated landing area.

This will start with a call out “landing” from the normal circuit  height, you will need to reduce the power, and line up for a rectangular  approach. The aim of this manoeuvre is to show that you can get the  model down safely on the runway with 90 degree corners.

Most problems are under or over shooting the landing area,  as there is no “set” area for landing. As long as you are somewhere near the middle, that is OK.The same can be said about the turns. These can be a  problem, not tight enough or to tight, leading to not being over the centre of the run way. My own opinion  of the  touch down, if it bounces a bit and comes safely to a stop  then I will pass you on that manoeuvre.

Take-off and over fly the run way left or right.                

This is the same as before, smooth and constant speed, and  height.

Fly a rectangular circuit at a constant height in the  opposite direction to the landing circuit just flown. Just as before, same hight and speed. The  main problems are  flying it too slowly or just too big and going out of bounds. As before, fly at a speed which you are comfortable with.

Perform a simulated dead stick landing.                

With engine at idle, beginning at a safe height (200ft approx.),  heading into wind over the take-off area. The landing to be made in a safe manner on the designated  landing area.

This can be a tricky one. How to judge the height, to me the  hight is not really the main concern. I will tell you when I feel that it is high enough.The main thing I am watching for is that you can make it  safely back to the run way, I don’t mind how you get back. You can come in in one big arc if you have a heavy model, or  you can do some turns if it is a lighter model. One point is try not to stretch it out as you can lose air  speed very quickly.

This is the flying part of the test over, apart from  removing the model from the runway and making it safe.

Complete post-flight checks as required by the b.m.f.a.  Safety codes.                

This is exactly the same as the preflight checks. Just give it a good look over and put the peg back if you had one.

Now for the questions.                

Answer a minimum of five questions on safety matters from  the b.m.f.a book and local site rules.

I have been asked many times where can they find some of the  questions, so they can look them up! This is not possible, as all it will do is make everyone  know all the questions and pass the answers on to their club mates. 

What this part is looking for

  • General safety about YOUR model.
  • Site safety.
  • Good understanding about the field lay out, such as the pits and no fly zones.

As far as the questions go, I will only ask the questions as  to the type of model you have. I will not ask about Helicopters in a fixed wing 'A' test, as I don’t think it is serving any purpose.

This about wraps it up. Get some practice in and have a go for it, you just might  pass it! Once you have got your 'A', you then can think about the 'B'.   

Keep flying safe

Graham Fox                 b.m.f.a examiner

A GUIDE TO THE B.M.F.A ACHIEVEMENT SCHEME “B“ TEST

This is the follow on from the “A” test , which I hope you have found useful.

In these notes I will aim to do the same thing as I did before, that is to go through what the test actually involves, whilst trying to point out some of the most common problems and mistakes that I have seen.

The main objective about the B is to demonstrate that you have a very good understanding of ALL aspects of safety, and your flying skills have been improved upon from when you took the A test.

                    

For the B you need 2 examiners the “lead has to be a qualified fixed wing examiner.”

This is done so that both of us agree the test was satisfactory and up to the required standard to pass.

One little known fact is that you can fail the B for not having a safe pit box.

I have seen such fuel soaked boxes that if they ever caught fire they would burn for a week.

However joking aside the B is quite a serious undertaking, as it will involve many hours of practice and the reading up of the BMFA rule book, looking at the relevant sections. (see the section on questions.)

THE MODEL
  • The Model

The first thing is your model suitable for the B test?

Well just about ANY model will do, but it needs to be over 1 kg and be in good condition. ( clean and tidy is what you need, NOT covered in tape or oil).

Some types of model however are not really suitable for the test and they are: the 3D fun flys with very large control surfaces, but Acro Wots and Wot 4s will be just fine.

The flight time of the test should be well with-in the normal duration of most electric models.

If you need to change the battery pack, this has to be pre arranged with the examiner prior to the flight.

Now as we have some understanding of what model you will need for the test, lets have a look at how to fly the test.

PRE FLIGHT CHECKS
  • Pre flight checks

Complete a pre flight check according to BMFA guidelines.

What we are looking for is that you have a good look over your model, and transmitter.

The prop and motor mount / fire wall should be given a slight pull to see if there is any movement in the fire wall or motor/engine mount.

The prop should be balanced and have NO sharp edges or cracks, as that would then have to be replaced before we fly.

The hinges need to be pulled slightly to see if they are all fixed OK.

With the same being done with the undercarriage.

When we say check the transmitter, first have you got the peg? Are you on 2.4ghz?

If all is OK . switch on and check you have the right model selected, and that all of the switches are where they need to be?. Go through a control check, are the control surfaces moving in the right direction?

Do all of the control surfaces move smoothly with-out any binding or jerky movements?.

At this point you can start the model (connect your battery leads if electric). If you need someone to help you to hold the model that’s fine.

We would also like to see the model run up to full power and do a control check,(this can be done with your helper holding the model for you or with a proper model restraint).

One point that I should make is that I don’t see any difference if it is a normal internal combustion engine or electric power.

FLYING PART OF THE TEST
  • Now its time to start the flying part of the test.

One thing which we do like to see is before your helper puts the model down on the run way, is to have a GOOD look around to see all is clear, also calling out to the flight line to see if it safe to put the model on the run way.

When the model is on the runway. Once again have a good look around to see if it is OK to take off.

Most likely we will be doing the test while “others”are flying. I like to do this because it shows to me a much more confident pilot.

Try not to rush as we are looking at all aspects of the flight, yes you will be nervous but we will take this into account.

TAKE OFF
  • Take off and complete a left hand (right), circuit and over fly the take off area.

This sound simple enough, but all sorts of things can go wrong, not really what you want to happen on the first part of the test!

As for the actual take off, we would like to see the model get up fairly quickly, but smoothly and not snaking around on the run-way.

Depending on the wind direction on the day you will do a right or left hand circuit and over fly the take of area.

We are looking for you to come back down the centre of the runway at the normal circuit hight. (the BMFA book says “two houses high”). This will be the standard circuit height for the rest of the B test.

The turns can be 90 degree or a smooth 180s, as long as the speed and height is kept reasonably constant, say ½ to ¾ power. ( I don’t like to see full power when we are just doing circuits).

We are looking for a smooth flight path without many deviations or corrections, both in height and speed. This will be the same for all of the test.

So on to the next part

FIGURE EIGHT
  • Fly a figure eight course with the cross over in front of the pilot.

This will start with the model turning away from us to begin the 8s

The new way of doing the 8s are now two circles, crossing over in the centre. So that is how the cross over point is made.

The things to watch out for are being too big on the first turn and not getting the crossover in front of the pilot.

The wind can have a large impact on how the turns might be flown, when heading into and across the wind the model will be blown into the turn and might result in the circles becoming too small.

Then when going down wind it could be blown off course again becoming too big .

As you can see even what looks simple to begin with is far more complex than what you first thought.

One point I should stress that I am not expecting you to fly from one manoeuvre and then straight into the next one, if you wish you can...but, if you need an “extra” turn or circuit” that is OK, just ask.

INSIDE LOOP
  • Fly into wind and complete one inside loop.

We start this by flying along the centre of the runway at the normal height and speed and into wind.

Now as the model passes us it should be on full power, with a smooth application of the elevator, we start the loop, we may need some rudder input to hold the correct line.

Once we have reached the top we reduce the power whilst keeping the elevator on for a smooth exit at the same height as we started, once at the bottom of the loop we can open up the power back to that which we have been flying the circuits.

Where things can go wrong is that the pilot might want to make the loop big, thinking that it will impress us. But actual what happens is you could run out of power and fall off the top and end up doing a miss- shaped loop more like 9.

When this happens you will fail that manoeuvre and I would ask you to try again.

So don’t make them too big, also I don’t want to see a very small tight loop either.

A loss of heading is another good reason for not going to big, you need to keep an eye on the rudder and use it as necessary, as the larger loop WILL need rudder correction because of the wind.

OUTSIDE LOOP
  • Fly down wind and complete one outside loop downwards from the top (a bunt). For models unable to bunt. a split S or reversal may be acceptable.

My own feelings on this one is that I will not accept a split s or reversal, as this was really for 3 channel models from many years ago. Such as high wing vintage types. Now-days we have modern 4 channel gear and just about every model you get these days is aerobatic any way.

All what I have said about the inside loop applies to the bunt,with only some slight changes.

The start of the bunt will be much higher than the circuit.

Fly along the centre of the run way at a good height and close the throttle and put down on the elevator to start the bunt, when towards the bottom of the bunt put full power back on and continue the circle to the point of entry, and then carry on with the normal circuit.

ROLLS INTO WIND
  • Complete two consecutive rolls into wind

This one can be a bit tricky, the main reasons are that some examiners allow you a “pause” between the rolls and some will want two rolls as “one manoeuvre”.

The roll rate speed can be difficult, we don’t want twinkle rolls, but NOT a slow roll either!

The best way of working out the roll rate is to give your self enough time to be able to put in down elevator and rudder as needed to keep it on line ( we look to see if you use down elevator to correct the flight path).

So the start should be down wind of us, and the middle of the 2 rolls should be about where we are standing, with the model upright.

The exit then will be passed us and into wind.

ROLLS DOWN WIND
  • Complete two consecrative rolls downwind using the opposite direction of roll rotation that you did before. ( If it was to the right first then we need to roll to the left this time).

This is just the same as before but in the opposite hand roll and wind direction. (Down wind).

All what I have said before applies to this manoeuvre.

We are just about half way through the test now, Deep breath and keep going.

STALL TURN
  • Complete a stall turn either left or right hand.

The stall turn can cause some problems, mainly for not being vertical, falling off at the top and the most common one is pulling out too early on the exit of the down line.

I have some “tricks” that you can use.

Fly at the normal circuit height and speed, passing us by say about 50 or 60 meters.

Pull up into a ¼ loop (smoothly) to go up vertically and count 1...2...3... and then close the throttle back to tick over.

Once the model has slowed up you can use full rudder to turn, when it is vertically pointing down you can also count 1..2..3..and then pull out.(away from the flight line).

This little trick seems to work well for the stall turn, if the model does not want to turn on the top it is OK to blip the power to help it over the top.

THREE TURN SPIN
  • Gain height and perform a three turn spin.

This will be started well before the centre of the run way. This is because we want the spin in front of the pilot, and into wind.

So throttle back to idle, slowly increasing the up elevator whilst watching which wing is going to stall.

When it is near the stall keep on full up elevator and then use full rudder,towards the stalling wing. (You may need a nudge of aileron to get you into the spin).

Once it is in a FULL spin and not a spiral dive, keep all the controls on.

Most sport s models will only need about ½ a turn or so to recover and come out of the spin,

The main aim of the spin is to show that you can recover from a stalled situation and know what to do to get out of it.

After the three turn spin it should be pointing roughly the same direction as you started.

Most problems come from not stalling the model to start with, so then it turns into a spiral dive.

Also not doing three turns, or coming out to early or to late of the spin.

OVER SHOOT
  • Fly a rectangular landing approach and over shoot from below 10 feet/3mts

This will start with the model passing us at the normal height and speed, calling out a landing to those on the flight line.

Then 4 x 90 degree corners loosing height on each of the turns.

This way you will have lost enough height and speed for the approach. You should now be in the right place down the centre of the runway, at this point you will need to call out that you have aborted the landing and that you are going around again.

All of the basic pointers that I have said before come into play here, try not to rush the approach, make smooth wide turns, and don’t try to bank the model over too much as that could put you out of position as you may need to correct for any wind on the day.

The point of this part of the test is to show that you are aware of what is happening on the runway and that you can react to a situation.

This is not a landing. but a overshoot, that will mean that the model will be flying much faster than if you were doing a real landing.

LOW LEVEL CIRCUIT
  • Fly a rectangular circuit in the opposite direction to the one just flown, at a constant hight of not more that 40 feet/10 to 12 MTS

Just as before you need to keep an eye on this one as sometimes it can catch people out.

The basic mistakes are that you think that you are on a landing circuit and therefore you fly on at just over tick over.

This is not what we are looking for like I have said before ½ power (throttle) will be fine , as for judging 40 feet/12mts that can be difficult.

Lets just say a fairly low circuit will be fine.

We are just about done with the flying part of the test except for the landing

LANDING
  • Fly a rectangular landing approach and land ( wheels to touch within a pre-designated 30 meter boundary)

Over the years I have heard of many different interpretations of what is the correct way to land in the 30 meter circle.

Some examiners want the model to stop in the 30 meter boundary, but if you read the question it says wheels to touch within the boundary. It says nothing about what happens after.

To me if you just clip the edge of the boundary and roll out, that is a pass.

Just remember try not to rush and keep things smooth and you will do just fine.

Once the model has stopped. Call out to make sure that it is safe to go and get the model back, have a look around as you don’t want to make a mistake now after all of the hard work you have just done!

Take the peg back after switching off and after making your model safe.

Unplug your battery pack and make that safe if electric.

POST FLIGHT
  • Complete post-flight checks as required by the BMFA safety codes

This will be exactly the same as you have done in the pre-flight checks, if you do find something amiss point it out to us. (You will not fail this part if you do find something wrong as the flight is over).

Now we are up to the point of the questions!

QUESTIONS
  • Answer satisfactorily a minimum of 8 questions on safety matters based on the BMFA safety codes for general flying and model flying displays and local flying rules.

Where do we start for the questions?

First as there are 2 examiners that means we will each ask 4 or 5 questions.

They will be solely about the type of model you have ( we wont ask you, say about gliders or helicopters as I don’t think that is relevant to you as you will be flying fixed wing)

The questions will be more in-depth than what you had when you did the A test, we are looking to see you have a good understanding of the BMFA book and air navigation laws.

Local club rules WILL be asked , such as where are the no fly zones and what time of day can we fly?

Probably the most important questions to watch out for are the air navigation laws, and cap 658 this being as once you have the B that allows you to fly larger models over 7kg so that is an area you need to look up.

For some of you the B will mean that you will now be able to build that turbine model you have always wanted, or even enter the Nationals!

It also allows you to fly at a public display, so again have a look at what the book says for setting up a flight line and how close to the public a model may fly.

NEARLY THERE!
  • If you have got this far.

One thing for sure is you will be feeling exhausted by the test, but you will be well rewarded .

As all I have to do now is to congratulate you on passing the B test

Well done, yes it did seem like hard work, but it was well worth the effort.

Congratulations.

Graham Fox

BMFA Examiner