The Turn Area Task

By Ron Schwartz

The Turn Area Task is a new task for some of our contestants and, as with all new things, it just might make more sense to you if there was some explanation.
First, the Rule 5.2 as it appears in the 2005 1-26 Championship Rules.  (Boldface is mine)
Turn Area Task (TAT)
    Speed over a course through one or more assigned turn areas (TA) with a finish at the contest finish gate.
    The turn areas are cylinders centered on a turn point (TP).
    The CD shall designate a minimum task time, a minimum task distance of not less than 30 miles, an turn area sequence, and a finish direction.
    The radius for each turn area shall be a whole number of miles not greater than 25 as assigned by the CD.
    The perimeters of successive turn point cylinders shall be no closer than 5 miles.
 
The task distance is calculated on what the pilot actually flew.  That would be a short distance if he just touched each TA, or long if he went to the far side of each TA. The Contest Director (CD) will also assign a minimum task time(MTT).  If you finish over the MTT, speed will be calculated as you would expect; Distance Completed divided by Time on Course.  If you finish under MTT, the Distance completed will be divided by the MTT.  So that equates to a penalty for finishing early.
 
A typical task would be two turn areas with the first having a radius of five miles and the second having a larger radius, say ten miles.  The CD will try to figure the task so that the average pilot will fly right over the TPs and complete the task just the MTT occurs.  He figures that the very speedy guys will go deep into the turn areas for extra miles and less speedy will barely touch the turn areas just so they can make it back home.  This is a great task for pushing all the contestants to their maximum ability and still have a good chance of getting everybody back home.
 
Prior to the flight you might have had time to figure out when you should arrive at each TP.  As you enter the TA, look at your elapsed time.  If you are ahead of schedule, go deep into the turn area to pick up more miles.  If you are behind, cut your losses and head for the next TA before you reach the center.
 
As you approach the TA with a radius of five miles, you are looking at a ten mile wide line to fly to, or an area of 78 square miles if you want to look at it that way.  Don't think in terms of making the TP, but focus on where to go in that big circle.  Pick the part of that line or circle that looks the best for what ever reason (better clouds, better terrain, better landing fields, other airplanes, lack of thunderstorms, etc.) and head that way.
 
Depending on how you are doing there are some questions you should be answering:
 
You enter the TA on schedule, the lift is the same as you've had all flight.  Do you
    A.  Head for the next TA as soon as you can
    B.  Head for the center of the TA
    C. Go deep into the TA
You enter the TA on schedule, the lift is better than you've had all flight.                   ABC
You enter the TA on schedule, the lift is worse than you've experienced all flight.       ABC
You enter the TA behind schedule, the lift is the same as you've had all flight.           ABC
You enter the TA behind schedule, the lift is better than you've had all flight.              ABC
You enter the TA behind schedule, the lift is worse than you've experienced all flight.  ABC
You enter the TA ahead schedule, the lift is the same as you've had all flight.             ABC
You enter the TA.ahead schedule, the lift is better than you've had all flight.               ABC
You enter the TA ahead schedule, the lift is worse than you've experienced all flight.   ABC
 
Having answered the above, throw in some other variables: 
The day is deteriorating rapidly, the day is getting better and better
The sky is solid blue, there's a TRW dead center in the TA 
You started way to late, you started way to early.
More variables,  is it early in the flight, is it late, iffy weather, how do you feel today, on and on and on.
Schwartz's over simplified answers to the above complicated questions.  BCA ,ABA,CCB        
It's a fun task and virtually everyone likes it a lot.  Here's hoping that you feel the same way.  I'm sure that you will feel the same way after completing a couple .