Basic Carrier Deck competition for the Cosmo Aeromodelling Club’s
Carrier & Scale contest at Damyns Hall Airfield in Essex on 29th April 2018
The location for this event had the misfortune of a Met. Office forecast for a 16mph wind gusting 28mph, 50% chance of rain and 5-70C temperatures. For a model flying contest day, actual conditions like these would undoubtedly be quite unpleasant. In consequence, apart from the organisers, only two other flyers turned up. The actual weather was, however, DRAMATICALLY different and was entirely flyable throughout the whole day – the wind increased from 3mph in the morning to only about 8mph in the afternoon, there was no rain at all and the temperature, though not measured, could have been described as ‘mild’. Although a number of trial and practise flights were made, it was decided that the poor attendance did not warrant operating the event as a contest – so it wasn’t.
It is arguable that the severe corporate embarrassment experienced by UK weather forecasters for their famous inability to predict the hurricane of October 1987 has resulted in increasingly pessimistic forecasts ever since. Certainly there have been a number of poor forecasts for Carrier contest weekends during which the actual weather experienced has instead been measurably better than expected: an aggregate total of only about two days in the last two years (ie: during a total of 38 contest days) have been lost by being completely unflyable – usually due to high winds. Very interestingly, the reverse – a good forecast but an unflyable actual – appears to be NOTHING like as pronounced…..
In the case of Damyn’s Hall 2018, it has to be said that the bad weather was simply late in arriving, with the wind and rain appearing increasingly from about early evening onwards. The forecast available early on the morning of the contest was certainly starting to show that the expected conditions were beginning to be delayed, but even this trend was somewhat pessimistic and therefore still misleading.
Because of the perception of distinctly pessimistic official forecasting, plus the relatively low likelihood in the UK of REALLY nasty weather in the contest season of the sort that large continental landmasses are more likely to experience (eg: mainland Europe), no UK Carrier contest has – yet, anyway – ever been cancelled in advance due to expected weather conditions. The Carrier officials are therefore ALWAYS going to turn up IRRESPECTIVE of the damned forecast and, for the last two years at least, the chances that they – and you as a contest flyer, of course – won’t be able to operate are 2/38, ie: a probability of 0.05.
The great British hillwalker Wainwright famously said that there was no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing – but clearly he didn’t ALSO have to fly a delicate model aircraft in windy, wet and cold weather close to terra firma, close to the stall and close to losing control. His philosophy, however, is ALWAYS worthy of consideration. Weather forecasters, poor folk, have an impossible job to do perfectly – but they will always get more stick for a forecast of good weather which turns out to be bad than for bad weather which turns out to be good. That’s why they’ll ALWAYS err on the side of pessimism.
And that’s precisely why you should NOT!
And, because you’re sensible, bring some sensible clothing too, just in case…