Fixed Wing Track Design

Pilot location

Pilots shall be placed in a location where they are protected from off-course aircraft and in a location where a standard directional antenna on the receiver may cover the racetrack. Pilots will be located away from the track to prevent RF interference from other passing aircraft. Pilot will be at least 30m away from the track as per SAMAA rules & regulations, if a pilot is closer than 30m to the track the use of a safety net must be made. It is at the organizers discretion as to where to locate the pilot’s area in relationship to the track. No pilot will ever be positioned in the middle of the track, pilots are will always by outside the track area.

Level 1 Track Design

Level 2 Track Design

Level 3 Track Design


3-5 turn:
A standard 3 to 5 turn chicane will follow the below equation for a straight chicane (no stagger): Distance between flags = 25 + 2X anticipated speed. Thus for a 80 km/h course, the flags shall be 38m apart.

A staggered chicane shall follow the below equation for a staggered chicane: Spacing: 50 + 2X speed (in km/h) = spacing in metres Stagger = 0.5 * speed = stagger

Thus, for 160km/h, flags shall be 76m apart with a 15m stagger.

5-8 turn:
For a 5-8 manoeuvre chicane, flag spacing shall be as follows:
Straight – distance = 2.5X expected speed
Staggered – distance = 2.5X expected speed with a stagger of 0.25* expected speed.

Carousel (270+ degree turn)

Carousels shall be used to break up consistent turns in the same direction (i.e. constant left-hand turns), slow down excessive speed, and to turn the aircraft away from spectator positions. Back to back carousels should be considered advanced manoeuvres and should only be incorporated on advanced level courses.

Where to use:

Make entering a manoeuvre such as a chicane more difficult (advanced courses)

Slow down the advancement toward the crowd (at the end of a straight-away)

Substitute for an opposite banked turn (a 270 right as opposed to a 90 degree left) Exiting a chicane

Where not to use:

  • Beginner or entry level courses entering a difficult manoeuvre such as a chicane or Immelmann
  • Where the aircraft might turn toward the spectators or pilots

Immelmann manoeuvre: Immelmann manoeuvres create dual traffic lanes and are excellent crowd pleasers. The placement of the Immelmann manoeuvres should be considered carefully as poor entry into the manoeuvre by pilots will cause the aircraft to go off-course and should always be pointed away from the pilots and spectators. The best placement for an Immelmann is immediately after a gate. For easier courses, a straight-away should be provided before entering the manoeuvre to allow the planes to straighten out. The spectators should never

be placed at the beginning of an Immelmann manoeuvre unless there is a barricade or fence provide to protect them.

Where to use:

  • Immediately after a race gate
  • Any place where an abrupt change of direction is required
  • Courses requiring a high level of pilot skill

Where not to use:

  • Any place where the aircraft if not level in the manoeuvre would steer toward spectators
  • Where minimal altitude is required by the area or course design
  • Courses designed for entry-level pilots

Power Loop/half loop (high speed loops):

High speed loops of power loops are used to slow the progression of aircraft and bring competitors closer together. Half loops such as entering inverted and pulling up elevator shall be used only in advanced level courses and should not be used as entry to a gate unless sufficient space is provided for the pilot to retain control of the aircraft. The minimum distance shall be 2 * top speed in mph = distance in feet to gate.

Tightening radius loop:

In this manoeuvre, the pilot exits the loop at a higher altitude than when entering. These manoeuvres are to be placed immediately after a low altitude gate. The pilot enters the loop underneath a gate and exits above the top of the gate. This is to be used ONLY in advanced level tracks.

Standard radius loops:

In this manoeuvre, a pilot will exit a loop at approximately the same altitude as they entered the manoeuvre. These may be place anywhere around the track and are useful for breaking up high speed straight-away. These manoeuvres should be entered between a pair of flags.

Switch-back Turn

Switch-back turn The switch back turn is a high speed 180-degree turn marked by a flag or a gate. The switchback may be used back to back to slow the progression for aircraft and to bring aircraft closer together for spectators or may be used after an Immelmann manoeuvre. A switch-back turn should never be exited where an aircraft would exit the manoeuvre toward

the spectators unless sufficient distance (3 seconds or more at full speed) is provided without a net or other protection.

Where to use:

  • At the end of a straight-away
    After an Immelmann manoeuvre such that the aircraft have sufficient time to recover from the Immelmann
  • In a “zig-zag format” where the crowd can see multiple aircraft in a tight formation

Where not to use:

Where exiting such manoeuvre will aim the aircraft toward spectators


In a doppelganger gate setup, the pilot enters a gate after a straightaway pulls an Immelmann and dives through a second gate directly behind the first. The setup can be followed immediately by a 90 degree turn to simulate a “rollercoaster” effect. Use a doppelganger gate encourage high speed passes and altitude control.

Set up:

The second gate should be a large gate and should be well marked the first gate should be entered after a straightaway and not exiting a turn

Separation distance should follow the equation: Gate spacing (metre) = intended track speed (in km/h) X 50

Second gate size should be: 4.5m – 6m Wide X 2.5m – 3m tall for moderate speed planes or where throttle management is to be encouraged 7.5m – 11m Wide X 4m – 5m tall for high speed performance airplanes


Half-corkscrew: The half- corkscrew combines the doppelganger with a high altitude turn. The pilot enters the first gate and pulls an Immelmann manoeuvre but then must make a 90-degree course change to dive through the second gate. The spacing between the gates can be used as an equalizer between planes with a variety of speeds and power systems such as in open class racing. The first gate does not need a long straightaway before entering like the doppelganger

Set up:

The distance between gates should follow these equations:

Easier courses: Spacing (metres) = Track speed (in km/h) * 50 Stagger (metres) = Track speed (in km/h) * 20

Challenging courses: Spacing (metres) = Track speed (in km/h) * 35 Stagger (metres) = Track speed (in km/h) * 25


A in a corkscrew gate, two gates or a gate and pair of flags are placed side by side. The pilot enters between the flags (or through a gate) and then makes a corkscrew manoeuvre to enter the second gate going in the same direction. The corkscrew gate is a great equalizer for open class racing where planes with a wide range of speeds will be present. The second gate should be the same size or larger than the first gate.

Needle gate:

A needle gate is a pair of gates where two gates are placed so that they are staggered encouraging pilots to chicane or corkscrew through them in the same direction. This can be set up in a multitude of ways to encourage different flying techniques. A flag may be placed before the first gate to force pilots to go through the gate straight. However, advanced tracks can allow the first gate as part of a turn which encourages hitting the gates diagonally and significantly closes the aperture of the second gate.

If a flag is used to force pilots to hit the first gate straight-on:

The stagger of the gates should not exceed ½ the distance between them in the direction of travel. Distance between the gates should follow the equation: Spacing Distance (metres) = track speed * 2.5

If the gate is to be used as part of a turn: Stagger distance (metres) = track speed (in km/h) * 3 Spacing distance should be 0.5 – 1.1 X the stagger distance


Gates are typically advanced level obstacles and help to reduce the altitude of aircraft in a race. Gates should be located after a straight-away and ONLY should be used in a turn in highly advanced courses. For advanced courses, gates may be placed at the end or beginning of a chicane to force pilots to maintain lower altitudes. For easier courses, gates should only be placed at the end of a long straight-away. Gates placed in the middle of a turn shall ONLY be used in a long, sweeping turn where pilots can see the gate while the airplane is in the manoeuvre. Cones or other markers shall be used to help pilots line up for the gate. Minimum gate distance from the last obstacle should follow the equation:

Minimum distance in metres = 2.25 X intended track speed (in km/h)

Gate size

A standard spec gate is a half-loop 26.5 feet in length with the anchor points 15 feet apart. This size is ideal for aircraft under 100 km/h. A large race gate should be 7.5m across and 4.5m tall. This gate may be arched or square. This size is ideal for aircraft between 100 and 160 km/h.

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