Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I wish someone would let me know whether it is insulting to our Argentine friends to refer to USA citizens as "Americans."  Our Argentine friends are too polite to tell me.

Assuming that most of the readers of this blog are Americans, I thought it might be useful to describe a few of the differences between US and International contests. The nomenclature is a big part of this difference.

The competition is sanctioned and controlled by "FAI." Despite their name and location in Switzerland, the official language of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is English, not French. And you may have recognised or recognized that the spelling is British, not American. Thus, the local group that manages this contest is known as the Organisers.

Each morning, we gather for a Briefing, not a "Pilots Meeting," and we are given our Tasks by the Task Setter, not the "CD." The head guy is called the Director, and the Task Setter reports to him.

We have two types of Task. A Racing Task is very similar to our AT, with the most notable difference being that all finishers are credited with the same distance.  The Assigned Area Task is a timed task with large areas, like our TAT.  In addition to circles, pie-slice shaped areas (with or without the point bitten off) are allowed in the AAT.  Thankfully, no Task Setter with any wits calls a task that uses the pie shapes.

The Start and Finish rules are unfamiliar to Americans.  They may be lines or circles (which are called Rings).  There are no sensible rules about energy control at the Start, and all attempts to make Starts both safe and fair have failed, so far.  Finishes are no better, as evidenced by the recent history of finish line accidents [in other contests, not this one, apologies to all emailers].

The multifaceted differences in scoring formulas deserve their own separate blog post. Perhaps I can get John to write that one.

If I think of some more obvious differences, I'll try to point them out.  I have to go now, to check the official Results (not "Scores").


  1. Hi Rick: I enjoy your posts. I am an Argentinian pilot living in Canada, and I had worked a lot in the States. About the "American" term. You see, for the rest of the world "America" is the whole continent, and USA peolple use the term in a fashion that seems to "appropiate" the name of the continent to the name of the country. I can imagine than in some past time, associating USA to America was not consider fashion, outside the USA. I beleive that right now is just funny curiosity, for most.
    PS: a 3 minute red-light in a no-traffic intersection is equal to a Green light in the pampas :)

  2. Gustavo, thank you for your information. We are all Americans here.

    Most of the traffic lights here do not work, and have been replaced with "speed bumps" on all four approaches to the intersection. So far I have had no near misses.

  3. Hi Rick,
    these "little" cultural issues are part of my daily life. Imagine how it is to be German, live and fly in the US and (try to) write for the whole World of glider pilots. I also have to get along with the different cultures and I can really feel what you are going through. One more thought: Most "Americans" are more polite than I can ever be. Heads up!
    I keep my fingers crossed for good weather and will follow your posts!
    Have a great time in Argentina


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