By Derek Heaton, FAI Jury member. 8th August, 2000

During the first round of races a serious crash occurred involving all three models in one of the heats. It was decided by the FAI Jury that there had been a serious risk of injury to persons and that the causes of the incident needed to be investigated to better understand how to prevent a recurrence. The pilots of each of the three teams together with their Team Managers were invited to a meeting with both the FAI Jury and F2C panel of Judges prior to the start of the second round. Due to language and availability problems only two of the teams were able to be present for the review meeting. The meeting was chaired by D Heaton, FAI Jury member, who stressed that the purpose of the meeting was not to apportion blame but to understand the mechanisms that led up to the crash so that a recurrence could be prevented.


The 3 pilots were allocated coloured bibs prior the race -red, blue and white.

The race started with all 3 models taking off together. Almost immediately the White pilot in attempting to overtake got himself badly positioned relative to the other 2 pilots, he appeared unable to move into the correct position relative to the other pilots.

Initially the model of the Red pilot was a little slower in warming up, as it did so it became the fastest model of the three and the Red pilot moved towards the centre of the circle of pilots to overtake. The White pilot now found himself at the back of the circle and was having difficulty in controlling his model as he attempted to retain visual contact with it around the other pilots.

The Blue pilot was forced to the back of the circle (the slowest model) and was also having difficulty in keeping his model in view, the primary reason for his difficulties were caused by the incorrect positioning of the White pilot who was causing a blocking situation.

The F2C Panel of Judges gave the White pilot a warning for behind centre but he did not respond as he should have done by moving towards the front of the pilots circle.

All three pilots became involved in holding and grabbing onto each other as they attempted to control their models and retain visual contact.

At approximately 18/20 laps into the race the F2C Panel of Judges gave the White pilot a second warning for behind centre, again there was no response from the White pilot to correctly reposition himself..

By this time the 3 pilots had moved towards the edge of the piloting circle (3 metres off the centre). The Blue pilot was running hard around the other 2 pilots to keep control of his model. The Red pilot forcefully took the centre of the three pilots putting himself in face to face contact with the White pilot, the F2C Panel of Judges then instructed the teams to stop racing. Almost immediately the Blue pilot was forced out of the pilots circle and stepped off the hard surface onto the grass and finally fell over as he attempted to get back onto the pilots ring.

At this point the Red and White pilots appeared to trip over each other causing the White pilot to fall over dragging the Red pilot out of the pilots circle.

2 of the models crashed inside the 19.6 metre flying circle whilst the 3rd model crashed approximately 2 metres outside the flying circle close to the official timekeepers.


  1. The F2C Panel of Judges could clearly see the approaching problem but is only empowered by the rules to issue warnings, there is nothing specific in the rules to permit the Judges to stop a race.
  2. The actions of all three pilots in holding onto each other helps to create problems of correct pilot orientation relative to each other and their models. All 3 pilots were very untidy during this race.
  3. It is a common occurrence for all pilots to wander away from the centre of the pilots circle on this site AND they always move off to the same point. This phenomenon has been observed at every preceding contest on this circuit. This had already been anticipated by the F2C Panel of Judges and they had issued instructions at the Team Manager's meeting that they would be advising pilots to move back to the centre of the circle whenever they were seen to be wandering towards the edge during racing.
  4. The edge of the hard surfacing stops approximately 400mms outside the painted edge of the pilot's circle. And has an almost vertical edge 230mms in height above the outer grass level.
  5. The timekeepers were protected by a free standing mesh screen between them and the flying circle at each pitting segment.
  6. Despite falling over all 3 pilots retained hold of their handles preventing the models flying off.
  7. The reason why 1 model crashed outside the 19.6 metre flying circle was due to the position of the Red and White pilots some 1.5 metres outside the pilots circle in the fall.
  8. The Blue pilot cut his engine at the last moment as he fell over trying to regain his footing inside the pilot's circle.
  9. If 2 of the pilots had made a decision to shut off their models earlier and stop racing as they became entangled then this accident could have been avoided.
  10. Immediately prior to the accident the Red pilot was about to receive a warning for being in the centre, this was not actually given as the crash occurred before the announcement could be made.
  11. The White pilot did not appear to respond to his 2 behind centre warnings.


  1. The FAI jury emphasised the need to maintain safety first throughout the contest and that everyone involved in the event:- organisers, Juries and competitors had a responsibility in this area.
  2. The 3 pilots directly involved in this incident were shown a replay of the video recording of that race and strongly reminded of their personal responsibility in ensuring that they conducted themselves in a safe and sporting manner..
  3. The FAI jury agreed that the F2C Panel of Judges should take prompt action to stop a race as soon as they felt that a dangerous incident could be about to occur, and that this decision would be strongly supported by the FAI Jury. This would be done by issuing a general command to "STOP RACING - SAFETY".
  4. The FAI jury would reinforce to every pilot before the start of the 2nd round:-
    • the need for them to respond quickly in a co-ordinated way to the advice from the F2C Jury to "MOVE TO THE CENTRE" and
    • to immediately shut off their engines if they receive the command to "STOP RACING- SAFETY"
  5. With the above actions carried out it was felt that the achievable safety level would not compromise the continuation of the contest.
  6. The provision of a second painted circle at 2.0 metre radius inside the existing 3.0 metre radius Pilot's circle will provide better visual orientation for pilots. All circles and centre spot should be painted with a non-slip finish.
  7. Prior to the organisation of future CIAM sanctioned contests the organisers should carry out a review of this circuit with particular regard to:-
    • The height of the perimeter safety fencing alongside the linecheck area.
    • The extension of the hard surfacing to the existing Pilot's circle by the addition of a further 2metre wide ring of Tarmac to eliminate the vertical drop. ( This can be tapered down to the existing grass level at its outer edge) Note:- the additional ring should be symmetrical around the existing circle even though the height of the ring above the grass varies to prevent visual confusion to the pilots.
    • Repainting all the markings in the Pilots circle in White (non slip finish) to improve visibility for better pilot orientation.
    • Further test flying on the circuit to ascertain the reason why pilots are continually wandering towards the same edge together with any remedial work to prevent this occurring in the future.
  8. The FAI Jury felt that they could not recommend that the White pilot continued flying in the contest as his lack of experience at this level of competition could lead to a further significant safety risk. At this point the Team Manager of the White team requested an adjournment for private consultation with his team after which he stated that the White team had decided to withdraw from the remainder of the contest.