The Autonomy originates in and is flown in Italy (please see www.autonomy-f5j.it). The rules are simple: make as many 6 minutes flights as possible with the allocated amount of energy.
The energy available for the contest was determined by a battery capacity – 3 cell Lipol capacity in mAh shall equal the model weight in grams (e.g. 1000 g model could have had 3S1000 battery, or 2S1500, etc.). Mathematically, model min. weight [g] = 90 * battery nominal voltage [V] * battery nominal capacity [Ah]. This energy corresponds to 666 W.min/kg.
For this year the Italian rules were slightly modified – the battery „nominal capacity“ has been replaced with „actual capacity“. They do measure the charge input into the battery (from the defined state 3 V/cell and 2C charging current – I am not 100% sure but it is described on their page).
In Italy, there are two classes – S and L. These letters stayed for „small“ and „large“ models with the break point at 2200 mm. For this year they changed the meaning for „Standard“ and „unLimited“ (or „Libero“ or something like that), where the standard models shall be less than 3000 mm in wingspan and not moulded composites. All larger models and the moulded models regardless the size fly in the L-class.
Over here in CZ, we modified the rules: the allocated energy is based on a drive power rather than on the battery capacity, and also allow for re-charging. It probably compromise the word „Autonomy“ in the original meaning, however it widens the potential competitor base.
Each pilot decided himself (politically correct should be also „herself“ but so far there are no ladies flying this category) when to launch, where to fly, how long to motor, etc. He himself takes care of the time flight measurement (the flight must be longer than 6 minutes, there is no penalty for longer flight), he himself records the landing points (easy – less than 5 m = 40 points, more than 5 m = zero) and also the „fuel consumed“. So the organization is very easy. On the other hand, it is for gentlemen only (which really is as we even inform each other about the situation in the air).
All pillots should use compatible radio channels enabling them to fly freely within the window. Even if there is any clash in frequencies the pilot concerned are usually able to agree on a scheme of flying.
The very first event in CZ was held just a year ago and I simply love this Automony. It is a pure thermal soaring when the thermal hunting starts at 50-100 m (of course with possible re-starts). It is about making decisions and unforgiving – one bad decision about the launch time could easily cost you 25% of the available motor run time.
The derivation called Non-stop is easier and perhaps more attractive for on-lookers. Very easy to organise right away in the field when few pilots are willing to try it. Both the Autonomy and the Non-stop are different from the more traditional contest schemes and a great fun.
The wording of the rules as flown over here is accessible from the menu above.
PS: This article was written for the Spanish F5J site.