GPS Triangle Racing

What is GPS triangle racing is all about?

Simply put it is about flying gliders around a triangular course where the turn points are not marked by pylons or flag men but by pre programmed GPS co ordinates. Each model is fitted with a GPS unit linked to a vario and transmits back to the ground via either the return channel of standard model radio telemetry or a stand alone system. The data is collected by specialist software running on a smartphone, tablet or stand alone device and displays the course, the models position on the course and as a bonus (and essential for racing) up to 40 parameters about the model, its glide angle, speed wind drift and a host of other data.

4 different classes exist:

The “Light” class uses typical F5J type models with a max wing loading of 30g/dm2 and is flown on a 200m course with an entry height limited to 200m.

The “Sport” class is for any model with a wingspan of less than 5m and with a take off weight of less than 7kg. The model must self launch using an electric motor to climb to the start height of 400m. These models are flown on a course where the turn points are 350m from the start point.

The 1/3rd scale class is for models that are a 1/3rd scale replica of an existing full size glider. This class is for pure gliders and they are aerotowed to start height.

The open class which as the name suggests can be any scale model up to a max weight of 25 kg. This class is required to self launch from a ground take off.

Both the 1/3rd scale and open class models have a start height of 500m and fly on a course where the turn points are 500m from the start point.

The goal of the competition is to fly as many laps around the course as possible in 30 minutes. Models are flown or aerotowed up to the start height (depending on the class being flown) and have to enter the course below but ideally as close to the specified start height as possible. The height and speed information is transmitted back from the model by the GPS kit fitted in the model. From that point the pilot is free to fly where he or she likes to find lift to complete as many laps as possible but the turn points must be rounded in the correct order. The best current glider will only fly less than 5 laps in still air and will be on the ground in less than 15 mins so finding lift is essential for a good score. Tactics play a big part in reading the sky and deciding when to stop to look for lift and when to push on around the course.

Further information about GPS flying can be found at:


What you need to start flying F5J light-class GPS triangle racing

  1. F5J sailplane around 2-2.5kg AUW (suggested) with a max wing loading no greater than 30g/dm²

See attached rules to suit your sailplane. Also larger battery capacity of around 1800mah. This will usually give you two full GPS flights with launches to 200m with margin.


  1. A front fibreglass or Kevlar section of the fuselage where the GPS airborne gear will be mounted. The GPS unit needs a clear view of the satellites. This can be forward fuselage or canopy area


  1. RC electronics GPS gear. Click on the link for description and price:



Sparrow RF unit

Finch Receiver unit

 Optional TEK Vario unit

 Licenced version of Albatross app for Android

             Also a good quality Android phone. Needs to have a fast processor and long battery life.

 Recommended Phone from Ebay

  1. Also recommended is a free channel to allow you to “arm Albatross “ and to power the Sparrow etc.