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October 13, 2006

Thermal tax

Filed under: Topics by Mike — ritz @ 10:52 am

by MikeMike

In an earlier article the “leeches”, “backpacks” or “caravans” were mentioned. What exactly are they?

In every gliding competition you have pilots that fly the competition and pilots that follow those that fly the competition. Imagine a group of pilots milling around in front of a start point waiting for the optimum start time. The group slowly circles up to the top of convection but nobody leaves the thermal yet. The thermal now peters out but still all gliders keep circling as if there is a thermal there. After a while the whole group starts to descend slowly but nobody breaks away from the now negative thermal. Sounds familiar? This is a very common sight in gliding competitions.

The group now slowly descending in their negative thermal is composed of a few top pilots, who are well up in the standings, and the rest are backpacks. They are waiting for their idol to lead out so they can follow him around the task and hopefully, when the leader scores well or even wins the day, they will have a good score as well. It is the responsibility of the “leader” to find good thermals around the track and make sure that “followers” arrive back with a minimum of delay and little or no stress. Naturally all the decisions are to be taken by the leaders and basically the leeches or backpacks are taking a chauffeur driven limousine around the course. Now, the leaders think of this behavior as profiteering, the backpacks call it contest tactics.

Every leader knows the feeling. You fly out in front the whole day and every time you pull up into a thermal you look over your shoulder to check the little ducks that have been following you all day, and you see them streaming into “your” thermal. This happens over and over again.

Sometimes things go wrong for the backpacks. In a competition in the Swiss Alps many years ago a group of backpacks were clinging like glue to a well-known (and very good) competition pilot, who was racing around the task. Whilst looking for a good thermal the leader made a mistake and one of the backpacks ended up quite a bit higher (like several hundred meters) above the leader in a thermal. Having arrived at cloud base the question was what to do now. If he would head out on course he could loose contact with “his leader” who would no doubt rocket past him and all his chances of the day would be lost. That thought proved to be too much for our friend so he opened his airbrakes and continued to circle in the thermal (with the airbrakes fully open!) until the leader had caught up with him and left the thermal to continue the task. The backpack sighed a sight of relief, closed his airbrakes and dutifully followed his leader out on track. Order had been restored!

Another (rare) example of things backfiring for the backpacks. A competition in France and a top Belgian pilot is racing his standard class glider to the first turn point of the task. He is followed by a backpack whom he has trouble to identify. Who is it?? Then, after a while it strikes him that his companion is a 15m class glider and not another standard class. No wonder he didn’t immediately recognize him but the plot now thickens; “why is he following me?” the Belgian pilot asks himself. They round the first turn point together and continue on the second leg. The mystery is not solved until some time after they finish the task. The other pilot was indeed from same contest, but from another class that had an entirely different task that day. Probably the poor soul had lost contact with his original “leader”, and was all by himself (the worst that can happen to backpacks). When he saw our Belgian friend rocket past he must have thought his fortunes had turned and he gratefully “hooked on”. It was only later that is was confirmed that the backpack had zero points for the day because he had flown the wrong task!

Now, what has all this got to do with Thermal tax? Thermal tax is a system to charge profiteers for their use of thermals found by others. For those who have followed the latest European and World Gliding Championships with the help of v-Pos you can actually see these little strings of gliders move across the computer screen (a little bit like a radar screen); the leader of the pack followed by the backpacks. As the leader finds a thermal they all bunch up for a while, their little wings rotating like they are being moved around on their wheel. Then one leaves and the others duly follow until the next thermal. The leader provides a service to them by eliminating the need for the others to actually find thermals. For this service he needs to be compensated and this is possible with the help of today’s GPS systems.

Imagine the following system. A glider in a contest finds a thermal. He is followed by for instance five more gliders who join him in the thermal. It seems no more than reasonable that the followers now pay the finder of the thermal a small compensation, lets say 2 points. At the end of the day, after the scores have been computed, these are adjusted by adding the thermal tax accumulated by those who found thermals to the score and deducting the thermal tax levied by the user of already detected thermals. So, let’s say a pilot has scored 850 points for the day and has found 9 thermals for others totaling 18 units of thermal tax @ 2 points each. His score for the day will now increase to 886 points. Another pilot who has followed our leader the entire day, and thus has the same performance, also scores 850 points, but he has used nine times the thermals found by others. So from his score the deduction is nine times two points, being 18 points, reducing his score to 832 points for the day. This system is great because now leaders don’t mind a group following them, the more backpacks the better in fact. The more taxpayers the better!! The backpacks will still have a better score than they would have had on their own, but some may see the light and go out on task alone and learn something!! Winners all around, so lets introduce this system. We have the technology, just needs someone to sit down and work out the definition of finding a thermal, when the tax flagfall is and to write a program that automatically allocates (thermal)tax paid and levied based on logger files (place and time info).

Just a final story on how backpacks can be a real nuisance. An open class contest in France, and the going is tough. A group of gliders, actually two leaders and six or seven backpacks, carefully progress along the task. The weather is deteriorating and the leaders are getting lower and lower. There is a very weak thermal at maybe 200 meters above the ground. The leaders must stop to circle if they do not want to land out. They are both dumping water to stay airborne, but close the taps when two backpacks arrive a little below them. Some more gliders join the pack including a notorious backpack who always manages to be in the way. He joins the group at the top of the gaggle. Backpacks sometimes do that because they do not need to think about centering the thermal. We are all still milling around without gaining much height when the aforementioned backpack, who is a little bit higher, decides there is no merit in carrying all this water and consequently opens all dump valves of his Nimbus, pouring water over a highly frustrated and muttering group of pilots who really don’t need this complication to stay airborne. This behavior of the man was not malicious by intent, just plain stupid and selfish, and from that perspective levying thermal tax is more than reasonable if that’s the sort of behavior one has to put up with in a contest.

Long live the (thermal)tax man!!

October 2, 2006

World Gliding Championships (3); The venues, where and how.

Filed under: Topics by Mike — ritz @ 8:38 pm

by MikeMike

This is the 3rd and last article reflecting on World Gliding Championships and some ideas how this institute could possibly develop in the future. Let’s start with developing a policy on locations of WGC’s.

The location of World Championships has, up to today, been decided by allocating the contest to one of the available bidder airfields. The allocation takes place by a simple voting process and certain amount of lobbying takes place in IGC circles. Now this is a good system in one way, as it gives the organization of the venue (WGC) to a country and site that actually wants to organize the Championships. As a consequence of this selection system the suitability of the volunteered site for competitive soaring is of much lower importance. So the selection of a WGC site is something like “the best of the available”, or “the most practical for the bulk of the competitors”, but not “one of the best sites available on earth”.

Maybe we should create a list of eligible sites for World Gliding Championships and maybe we should set weather standards for sites to get admitted to this list. The objective of course being that very important gliding competitions should be held at sites (airfields) where the chance of the contest becoming a lottery due to unreliable (weather) conditions is minimal. Let me just name a few places or area’s in various continents that could fit the requirements.

In North America: Odessa, Uvalde, Hobbs, Marana, El Mirage, Minden, Ely and the many other sites that fall roughly within the area covered by these mentioned sites.
In Australia: Waikerie, Mildura, Leeton, Narromine and Forbes. This is basically the southeastern part of Australia, well away from the Great Dividing Range.
In Africa: The area roughly from Bloemfontein (South Africa) to Bitterwasser (Namibia) with Gariep Dam as a very desirable site in the middle. There may also be good (but unrealized) soaring possibilities in Morocco (south of the Atlas mountains) for the future.
In Europe: Fuentemilanos, Ocana, (central Spain), Mengen, Klippeneck (southern Germany), Lesno (Poland) and Rayskala (Finland). Some of these places have some issues with available airspace, which is something that is becoming increasingly difficult in Europe.
In Asia: There must be some great locations in Russia and Kazakhstan, but I have no knowledge of them (yet). Further to the east I can imagine good soaring possibilities in India roughly between Bangalore and Nagpur and of course in China, on the edge of the Gobi, the weather conditions could be expected to meet the requirements. All of these areas need to be opened up in future to allow big gliding contest to take place.
In South America: The area comprising northern Argentina and southern Brazil. There are a number of sites there (like Junin and Bauru) that would be good for big contest from the weather point of view.

All the mentioned sites and areas have in common that they are NOT mountain soaring sites. Over the years it appears three different sorts of flying have emerged; normal flat country soaring, mountain soaring and wave running. Although the absolute performances achievable in wave running are quite exciting it is not for contests, and I think almost everyone agrees about this. Who wants to sit for hours at 8 or 9 thousand meters height, redlining most of the time, sucking oxygen all the time and trying to avoid your feet from freezing off. Great for record flying, lousy for contest purposes.

Then we have the mountain competitions. I have flown a few and there is no denying that the Alps or the Apennines are lovely to fly through, but I have my doubts about staging World Competitions there. The risks in mountain flying are quite a bit higher than in flat country soaring and many a top pilot has lost his life enjoying the mountains. Some sites, like Minden, have a mixture of terrain. You can’t really call it mountain flying because there is almost always an escape possible to the very wide valleys, where people live a normal life and out landings are quite feasible most of the time. The conditions in this mixed terrain can be stunning. I remember a well known French pilot (Gabriel Chenevoy) flying his “camion” (ASH25) from Minden over something like 908 km in just 5 hours one day. What a buzz…!!

We need to be thoughtful to select World Championships sites. Eliminate the unnecessary risks and try to get sites that give every pilot an even chance. Soaring is a sport and not exercise in heroism. So …, long live flat country World Gliding Championships!!

Tasking has improved a lot over the last ten years or so, although a tendency to revert back to normal speed tasks seems to be appearing lately. The reasons for this are easy to understand. There is very little thinking by the pilot required to fly a set speed task, and these tasks lend themselves extremely well for following top pilots by the also-rans. The practice of following other pilots is often called leeching or backpacking. There are (quite a few) pilots that have flown entire contests without ever taking a decision, other than who to follow. Obviously the “backpacks” rather feature relatively high on the score list, because they followed the right pilot, than go at it themselves and get into trouble and learn about the atmosphere and racing. They are quite content to follow someone around the entire course and bask in glory, after finishing, for a placing that was created by someone else.

So to find the best pilot in a contest it is better to fly variable distance tasks, ie speed tasks with very large turn areas (beercans), so the competitors can distinguish themselves by flying larger distances and flying faster as well. It is the Qutback Shootout formula where the longer the distance flown by the winner is, the fewer speed points there are available to everyone. The fatigue factor can be limited by setting maximum en route times.

One of the drawbacks of current competition flying is the severity of penalty for outlanding (no speed points). In the Outback Shootout formula outlanding pilots still get speed points, but their speed is adjusted down by 10% because they landed out. This has two effects. Firstly there is a lower tendency to try to scratch away from ridiculously low altitudes, so the flying can become more safe because all is not lost as a result of an outlanding, and secondly, the pilot is still in the running for the prizes, even after an outlanding. The mechanism of actually almost eliminating someone from the scores just because he one day lands out has always been an excessive penalty, but only now, with data loggers, can we revert back to a fairer system. We should do so.
Next article will be on “Thermal Tax” !!!!! Don’t go away….

September 12, 2006

World gliding championships (2). Some other angles.

Filed under: Topics by Mike — ritz @ 5:21 am

By MikeMike

Gender. For many years we have had World Gliding Championships organised for glider pilots, regardless of gender. Male or female, hetero-, homo-, or transsexual,it didn’t matter; Every human was welcome to compete for the title. This is still the case but at the very end of the 20th century World Gliding Championships especially for women were organised. Why?

Women are clearly as capable (glider) pilots as men or other sub-genders are. There is no great physical strength required to operate a sailplane, so where is justification for having special women-only world championships. The one thing we can say about female glider pilots is that, sadly enough, there are few of them around, and we want more of them to compete against. Because female contest pilots are rare, they need encourangement and protection to grow their numbers.

One of the very good mechanisms to achieve this is to give them a shot at winning a world title (or a ladies cup or title at a national level) in their own right. So yes, we do need world gliding championships for females, but the number of classes may be limited to two or three (exclude open class and world class) to achieve reasonable numbers of competitors per class. A (female) junior title could be embedded in the rules to try to entice the younger females to get more contest experience.

Classes. It’s funny how things develop over time, and this is certainly true for the class structure developement over time. Originally (75 years or so ago) there were not so many competition gliders around so to get thirty of them competing in one contest was already no mean feat. During the next twenty years various class formula’s appeared and sometimes disappeared again (the 2-place class).

Open class was always there, being the top of the line gliders with the greatest potential for long, and often daring, flights (remember cloud flying was still allowed in those days). Open class must always remain because it represents the pinnacle of technology, i.e. the best performance that can be squeezed out of current materials and aerodynamic state of the art, albeit at sometimes astonishing costs.

There will always have to be an Open Class World Gliding Championship contest, just like there is Formula 1 for racing car drivers, and America’s Cup for sailors. In all cases the “top” class vehicles are superbly capable but shockingly expensive to build. It is just a pity that we still have weight restrictions in Open Class. Wouldn’t it be great to see a future Open Class without this, perhaps leading to 35 meter wingspan gliders with an all-up weight of 1500 kg or so (of which 800 kg could be water!). Unlimited category gliders as the americans so aptly describe this class.

Almost fifty years ago, in Lesno 1958, the Standard Class appeared. The first Standard Class World Champion was Adam Witek from Poland, flying a Mucha Std. After Helmut Reichman won the Standard Class title in 1974 (Waikerie, Australia) flying an LS2 and Ingo Renner won his Standard Class title in Finland flying (and winning) a PIK-20 things needed to change again, as both the LS2 as the PIK20 had wing flaps to improve performance. So Standard Class stayed, but without flaps, and 15m Class came into being because the 15m gliders were already there. It was a hasty decision and one that would be regretted, because even then some enlightened minds already foresaw the need for an 18m Class as that would give a much better performance base than the hastely decided 15m class. Thirty years later we are still stuck with the 15m class for no good reason other than that there a lot of 15m gliders around. In the meantime we did get the 18m class as well, so one could wonder how long 15m will still remain as a World Championships class. Then there are two other classes left, one which is a really good way to compete in older (cheaper) gliders, the Club class; and one which I regard as a complete flop, te World Class. The latter was the result of a desire (by whom?) to design a class where pilots all fly in exactly in the same (low-cost) glider of a single type (PW-5). There is no problem with the World class PW-5 as such, nor with the concept of competing on exactly equal terms, but why would one want to buy one of these gliders? I really wouldn’t know. Any old Libelle, ASW15, LS1 or Cirrus has better performance at half the purchase costs. LS4’s and Discus second hand prices are moving towards PW-5 costs, and these gliders have vastly superior performance and much wider appeal.

A competent pilot can fly a 1000km triangle in an LS4 or a Discus, and although probably some hero will fly one in an PW-5 one day, it is not even fun trying. Looking at the numbers of PW-5’s in World Championships it seems that the only reason people bother with them is that there are only a few competitors between them and a World title, so the chances of becoming a World Champion are better then in any other class. Great pity of all the efforts put into the World Class but maybe we should call it a day with this class.

A few more issues to cover but I will have to write these from the other side of the world probably next week.

Cheers, MM

August 21, 2006

World gliding championships (1). Are we making progress?

Filed under: Topics by Mike — ritz @ 11:09 pm

By MikeMike

Part 1: Equal opportunities

The first world gliding champion was Heini Ditmar in 1937. From the Wasserkuppe he flew a DFS Sao Paolo glider to victory beating 30 competitors. There was only one class to compete in: Open class! In those days there were about half a million active glider pilots in the world and Heini Ditmar was the best of them all. Six years later (1943!) he was to fly a Me163 rocket fighter in level flight to a speed of over 1120 km per hour (!) during a highly secret test flight, but that’s another story. No doubt he was an extraordinary talented (and courageous) pilot.

Things have changed a bit since then. The number of active glider pilots worldwide has steadily dropped to somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred thousand. Interestingly the number of world champions is on the rise (!), rapidly approaching fifteen! So, from a statistical perspective, your chances of becoming a world champion are now about eighty times better than 70 years ago.

To become one (a world champion) you need to participate in a world championship (you can’t win if you’re not in..). To be able to do that you must be selected by your national aero club and this is where the misery starts. The system of selection hasn’t changed much in the past seventy years. The whole selection circus revolves around “representing” your country. This means that pilots being “sent” to represent their countries have been “selected” by their national aero clubs, and these in turn derive their power to select from the fact that the FAI has accredited them.

Every country has the right to “send” an equal number of pilots to the World Championships. So Germany, France or the USA, with busloads of very good pilots, can each send the same number of pilots as for instance Jamaica. This is great for the Jamaican pilots (they might all go) but bad for the glider pilots of the big gliding nations. The system discriminates against them and the overall quality of competition may be lowered as a result of this. The current system doesn’t give equal access opportunities to glider pilots around the world.

Any glider pilot, regardless of nationality, needs to have equal opportunity to progress to the world championships without interference (or “help”) from selection panels, national aero clubs or other access regulating mechanism (other than capacity limits).

From past experience it has become clear that a sensible limit to the number of entries in any one (world) gliding competition is a bit over one hundred aircraft. Let us say one hundred for arguments sake. At the moment we have six competition classes: Open, 18-meter, racing, standard, club and the largely failed world class. Fortunately the classes are now being grouped two-by-two (instead of 3 or 4 in one venue), so there are currently three hundred world championship contest places available. Once the classes are separated again and every class has its own world championship, that number can rise to six hundred. That’s probably theory because it is hard to imagine more than fifty or sixty open class gliders turning up at any one time, but you never know. On the other side of the performance spectrum, it would probably be impossible to find a hundred world-class gliders and/or enough pilots willing to fly them, so that championship will probably remain heavily undersubscribed.

Having agreed to the conceptual necessity of providing equal opportunities to all glider pilots the question is how to go about it, and the answer is really quite simple:

Remove the national aero clubs (“countries”) from the selection loop and let the IGC develop a system of world ranking regulating access to the world championships.

This requires the IGC to classify competitions as “A” or “B” contests. “A” contests are World-, European-, and National Championships plus a handful of other contests that can be deemed to be of national level or better. “B” type contest could be any other multi-day contest like regional championships, state championships etc. It seems fair to expect pilots to compete in one Cat B contest before participating in Cat A events. Any (qualified) pilot from anywhere in the world should be eligible to enter any Cat A contest of his choosing (subject to limitations in numbers of participants and the venue not being a World or Supra-National championship).

This freedom to enter is very important because it will lead to aspiring world championships competitors “finding” Cat A competitions so they can climb on the world ranking. This will be good for all, as the championships that are unpopular now will suddenly attract foreign pilots and thus the quality of that contest will be enriched, good for the locals and good for the visitors. The world ranking based on Cat A contest results will now (automatically) generate the eligibility for world championships based on merit and not based on nationality. Sure, there will be lots of entries of pilots from the big gliding nations, but nationals of countries that are unknown to FAI or countries that have no national championships can now qualify for the world championships by participating in Cat A events anywhere in the world.

So what will change now if we decide to go this way? Not a lot really for most glider pilots. The national aero clubs will go about their (very useful) business as they are doing today. Competitions and championships will still be organized. The only difference will be that access to world gliding championships is regulated by a world-ranking list administered by the IGC and based on the results of accredited level A contests. The national selection committees can be abandoned, its members possibly being redirected to other activities. Competitions will be open for participants regardless of nationality and that should make it more interesting for everyone.

Now that’s progress!

In part 2 we will talk a bit about classes, tasks, contest locations, age groups and gender. Stay tuned…..!

July 31, 2006

The case for vPos

Filed under: Topics by Mike — ritz @ 8:53 pm

by MikeMike

World Gliding Championships have been held for many decades, but is has traditionally been quite difficult to follow these contests. News of the day-to-day race results often came from a telephone call from one of the crewpeople or the teamcaptain to the national gliding secretary, who then would type out the information and stick it on a message board in the bar of the national gliding centre, where it could be read by interested parties. As telephone became more sophisticated, sometimes a tape would be prepared each day of the results and members or interested parties could phone a certain telephone number and listen to the tape to get some idea of what was going on. It was slow and often incomplete but for those people who were interested in how a world championship progressed it really was the only way you could get some information.

The emergence of television has made an enormous difference because people could now watch events live or in compressed form by watching the sports programmes, but until today television companies havn’t been interested in covering competitive soaring. This is because nobody has, so far, been able to make soaring attractive to the general public watching their television sets at home.

Internet is now rapidly providing ways for us near mortals to follow an important soaring event. The internet menu provided by contemporary competition organisers is expected to include shout-boxes, newstickers, webcams on site, near realtime scoring, on site bloggers (latest news) and photogalleries / movies. In the competition website there is sometimes an area for country sub-sites giving similarly structured info as the main site, just focused on the national team. If you don’t have all the above on your competition’s website your contest management can be deemed to be deficient to say the least.

And now there is something new ….. vPos. For those who haven’t seen it, this is a system that can display (real time), on an electronic map, the position and height of the gliders whilst they are on task. The vPos system has some other features that are amusing, interesting and fancy, but the astonishing advantage is now that you and I can actually follow a contest pretty well live. It is absolutely clear that a major contest, or a selfrespecting smaller one, without vPos or a similar system is now unthinkable.

All gliders should be fitted with the vPos system just like all gliders nowadays have (often two) loggers. The two systems (IGC-logger and vPos) are probably reasonably easy to combine into one box and if FLARM could be included in the same box, this would make for one hell of a data, tracking and collision avoidance package. There are various safety reasons why we would want such a system anyway (for instance collision avoidance, locating a lost glider) and at the same time it provides the platform to make it much more fascinating for the audience. Let me explain…

When all competing gliders are fitted with vPos, anybody with a computer and an internet connection can now follow the event live. I assume that in the near future some zoom, time, filter and other controls will be selectable in the website of the contest, so the viewer can select which glider he wants to be the center of attention, how the data is presented etc. etc. Also, when a glider passes the finish line or (better) enters the finish circle, the IGC file could maybe be downloaded instantly to the contest-server. The relative postion and a preliminary day-result and preliminary cumulative standing builds itself immediately as gliders finish their task or land out. As the glider rolls to a stop after a task, he is met by a crewperson with a laptop or handheld computer and the pilot knows pretty well how the day went before he even gets out of the cockpit. Similarly he might get the message that things didn’t go that well when the crew tell him that the laptop fell and broke, they forgot to put it on, the battery is empty or that there is no connection at the time. Pilots can be volatile at times and showing them the (bad) results too soon might not be such a good idea. Enough of this, there is another angle to this vPos business that I find absolutely facinating, so listen to this ….

At the moment vPos is delayed by 15 minutes, so when you watch the screen, what you see is the position as it was 15 minutes ago. This is a pity because, obviously, what you see is not quite live. The 15 minute delay is motivated because of the fear that a pilot might have an advantage from someone monitoring the vPos display and passing on information to another pilot. This itself may be correct but the data is available to anyone at the same time, so??

I don’t think there is much, if any, ground for this 15 minute delay in data release. I think we are doing ourselves, viewers and pilots alike, a big dis-service by having this delay. Why…
Firstly we should not always try to put “equalizers” and “handicaps” in the system to make things “fair”. Some people have better eyes than others and thus some pilots will see other gliders (long) before others will. Are we now going to give all competitors in a class corrective glasses so their sight is degraded to the level of the one unfortunate enough to have the worst eye-sight. Would that be fair? I guess it would be fair, but I don’t think anyone will want to seriously think of actually handing out the corrective glasses for the flight!! I don’t even want to start thinking of a correction for one pilot being smarter than another. So I guess what I want to say is, what’s available is available and let everyone do with it what he likes.

One of the drawbacks of gliding is that it is a pretty egoistic sport. The crew can clean gliders, they can pamper the pilot, they can rig and de-rig the glider when the weather turns foul or when it clears up again. They can make food for him, bring him drinks etc. etc. Some crews are great (!!!), in fact some are so dedicated that Cleopatra (who had many servants) would have been extremely envious of the pilots of today. But the crews are not “in the cockpit” and they are no big help once the pilot is on the way. In the past, when POST tasks were being used in major contests, there was some opportunity for a pilot with a smart and fast thinking crew, to gain some advantage because working out the various turnpoint scenario’s versus time left on task was not something done easily in the cockpit. So people on the ground could help the pilot optimising his performance because they could work out the various remaining flight times based on an assessment from the pilot whether the sky “looked good” or “a bit iffy” from where he was towards a specified turnpoint. The method was somewhat crude but it turned out that a switched on ground crew could be helpful in providing the pilot with a sequence of turnpoints to optimise time and distance.

With vPos we have something entirely different available. We can now make gliding a team sport. Just imagine that on a certain day there is an AST of 200-600km. There are a number of competitors in our class we consider of importance. By e-mail or sms the pilot’s crew contacts a few of his gliding friends. Each is allocated a few gliders to monitor (plus their own pilot of course). The central “controller” (the pilots crew or the tactician of the pilot, who communicates with him over the radio) now sets up a party line on his computer through a messaging system or VoIp connection. Let the game begin…. I don’t know how this will develop, but I can see that the “analysts” sitting behind their computers and monitoring the vPos data will come up with usefull bits of analyses and tactical inputs. The “controller” will get the feed from his (remote) operatives and he most likely will be able to work out some good ideas, data and tips for the pilot to use if he thinks they are sound. So now there are already several people (is several extra brains) “flying” with the pilot in his cockpit. And these people could be virtually anywhere on the world..!!! How fascinating….. This is however only going to work when the time delay is taken out of the vPos data stream. If that doesn’t happen the potential created by vPos is negated to a large extent straight away and looking at it will be done because it is a curiosity rather than an exciting live media at work. Far fetched ???? Maybe, but just think of the possibilities with the time delay disabled…

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