The difficulty of a target time is that we have vastly different ability levels and physical locations (specifically ceiling sites) across the country. Many teams might not be capable of reaching a 5 second flight time at regional tournaments. If we set one time (or low range of times) for every venue, many locations would not be able to take advantage of their full capabilities while others might not be able to run the event because they can't find a site big enough for the minimum.
I agree that different location would have different ability levels but I think the times I listed are reasonable for anywhere you could realistically test the glider. If a location does not allow for a 15 seconds at states, then the event should be looked into by coordinators. That is a fault of the competition which probably can be avoided by a statement in the rules (state location should have a minimum of 20ft ceiling, regionals 15ft). If the competition doesn't have the minimum, then the competition doesn't really allow the competitors to show what they built in the first place. I would not want to fly my glider in a room of 12 ft nor does it do justice to the competitors who invested so much time.
In addition, if teams cannot reach the minimum requirement, that is fine. This scoring doesn't even tier 2 them for not making the time. I know many mousetrap vehicles which didn't make the minimum distance to be tier 1. Should we lower the distance for that event since it is difficult for people to go the distance? These teams who aren't capable of the minimum are probably the ones who don't even practice enough to make an actual flight log in the first place. In actuality, I hope such targets will give them a goal to aim for like in mousetrap or gravity vehicle.
many locations would not be able to take advantage of their full capabilities while others might not be able to run the event because they can't find a site big enough for the minimum.
I think locations would be able to take advantage of their full capabilities. The score is the best 2 flights times - (absolute difference between target and closest actual). For example, a 40 ft ceiling might have a glider with a score of 25s + 23s - (target of 13s, actual 15s) = 46s. The team got to show their full potential while also getting close to the target score demonstrating practice and mastery with the glider.
Now let's say a site is the minimum 20 ft. Teams cannot reach the target time. The scoring doesn't not harm any team in particular. It is the 3 best times to show reliability of the glider. The score will be 2nd + 3rd best flights - (15 - best flight). An example is 12s +12s - (15s-13s) = 22s.
The exact time flight would be for bonus points. Not the contest. An elective like the raising of the ping pong ball. A completely separate flight from the scoring ones.
A team that is held back because they don't have the a skilled mentor or ability to get the best wood to make the best glider could push into the top of their event with enough practice.
If a team wishes to not put in the time. That is their choice. They don't have to do the bonus.
Next, the differences in time between Colorado and Dayton is .015%. Because thrust is a constant the change in air density is cancelled by the drag difference. It's not the same as wright stuff where thrust is increased and lift is increased. I spoke to several AMA glider guys about this. They all came up with the same conclusion. Gliders basically have the same glide times with a very slight increase in times, in denser air.
To some, that may not make sense because the gliders act so extreme when lift is changed due to air density. But once trimmed it all equals out.
I would argue much it is more consistent than different surfaces for the gravity vehicle event.
In addition, It has been my understanding that bonuses have traditionally been for that team that wants to go the extra mile to win. So i don't understand the rebuttal about all skill levels.
So the formula for figuring scores would be: two best times added together + bonus points.
Bonus is figured as: 10- abs(exact time - flight time)
Also it would not be that hard to figure the bonus times. A good glider drop is one second per foot.
So a good time in a 20 foot ceiling is 20 seconds.
A good bonus time for would be .40 or 8 seconds to .60 or 12
Finally, i believe that if a team were to work towards the bonus they would find that they would also improve their times as they practice and get to understand their glider.
I agree with most of your points. The main difference between your suggestion and mine is whether to make target flight(s) separate. The only benefit about making it separate is so that teams are clearly aiming for best time vs target time. However, the top teams should be clearly aiming for one or the other. I like having the freedom to choose in case the one of target flight wasn't exactly as I wanted. At least 2 flights should be given in case some accident happens (you don't want one unlucky thing ruin your score). Then the issue is time since 2 additional flights would be at least 2 minutes.
Even then, I still think your idea is good and better than a prediction or just using more flights to try to compensate for the log.