What is Pylon Racing?

Radio Control Pylon racing is an adrenaline rush like few others offered in RC.

Racing head to head against 3 other pilots around the course tests your flying ability and will leave you craving more.
Pylon Races are not just for pilots, but are great events for spectators, too.
There is a lot going on during a pylon race and flying is only part of the activity.

The Race Course

The race course is defined by three pylons which form a triangle.
The distance from pylon-1, at the apex of the course, to pylon-2 and pylon-3 is 180 Meters; the base of the triangle, between pylons-2 and pylon-3 is 40 Meters.
The start/finish line is located inside the triangle and 30 meters away from pylon-3. Ten laps around the course equals just over 4 km. Pilots fly their aircraft around the course in a counterclockwise direction—left turns all the way.
The course length is selected to result in 10-lap times between one minute (fast pace) and two minutes (slow pace for beginners). For the quickest aircraft, the speed around the course falls typically between 300-360 Km/h.
The Signal Board
The signal board contains a light for each lane/pilot, to signal when a pilot’s aircraft “breaks the gate.” and is situated at Pylon-1. A pilot/caller seeing this signal knows that he can make his turn at pylon-1 without “cutting.” A “Cut” is given to a pilot if he turns before or inside of pylon-1, this “cut” is a 10% time penalty of the overall time of a round, if a pilot is awarded two cuts in one race, they automatically get a total time of 200 seconds.
The Race
Prior to each race, the Contest Director (CD) or Starter will ask each pilot to identify their aircraft. This is done so that each timing judge gets a chance to judge different pilots. once identified, the CD / Starter will signal 15 seconds before we start the clock. Once synchronized with the timing judges, the clock starts. Pilots now have 1 minute to start their planes before they can take off and start racing, 5 seconds before the start, all the lights on the signal board will light up, indicating that the race will start in 5 seconds. Each pilot should look at their corresponding light before taking off, once their light goes out they can take off, each pilot is released at 1,5 second intervals. Each pilot completes 10 laps around the course and once completed the pilots signal light will remain on, indicating that he completed the race.
The Planes
Regulations for pylon racing discuss everything from the spinner to the tail. Design specifications in the regulations for each class of competition include those for the wing, fuselage, power plant, landing gear, propeller, construction materials, and many other parts of the plane.
In the past there have been multiple classes, that have been flown in and around South Africa. At the moment we are flying 4 classes, based on participation.

Sportsman Class

This is our entry level class. Pilots are welcome to bring any 40-50 size aircraft ranging from trainers to sticks and sport aircraft. The maximum size motor allowed in this class is .55 Glow, and no tuned pipes. Any specialized racing aircraft will not be permitted to compete in this class. This class is by no means boring and most pilots in the other classes will field a plane suitable for this class, as it it so much fun racing against your friends.

Standard Quickies

This is the next logical step for a pilot that wants to get into pylon racing, and start racing at a more serious level. The average plane fielded in this class is a Viper 500, or a plane with similar dimensions, we now allow any standard motor up to .46 with a tuned pipe fitted. any specialized racing motor or modified motor will not be permitted in this class. In addition to the motor standards everyone in this class runs a standard 9″ propeller.

Hot Quickies

The “500” refers to the minimum wing area for the class of 500 square inches. Unlike the Standard Quickie, wings and tails manufactured in molds designed to produce hollow core structures can be used. With the engines permitted for this class, the planes can reach speeds around 250 Km/h.

Q40 (Quarter Midgets)

The Quarter 40 (Quarter Midget) is the 2nd fastest of the classes currently flying in South Africa. These are the planes that reach the 250-280 Km/h top speeds. Q-40 planes are often all composite and “painted in the mold” resulting in beautiful, sleek and fast racers. As specified in the regulations, the planes in this class must also resemble real airplanes. The average wing area of these planes are in the region of 400 sq Inches.

F3D (Formula 1)

F3D is the fastest class in South Africa, although it is a valid registered class, it is often not flown due to high cost, and participation being low. We do have some pilots that will on occasion fly these planes at airshows, or do some demo flights at events. Speeds in excess of 360 KM/h can be expected, and is truly amazing to see these planes in action.
Pylon Racing South Africa is all about safety. All of our members and pilots participating must be paid up members of SAMAA. Each pilot and his helper must wear a helmet while near the course. Helmets can be hard hats, skateboard helmets and alike. Safety netting is also constructed around the flying pits area to protect pilots and callers while flying.