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My R/C flying history
Tuesday, 8 June 2004
I've quit keeping track of my flights, as I'm getting to fly somewhat often, and there isn't much new every time. I have been able to perform some more aerobatics now. Keep in mind that none of them are performed exceptionally or anything like that, but I have done several now. My list now includes: loops, rolls, half Cuban-8's, Cuban 8's, Immelmans, split-S, Harrier (almost, didn't have enough wind to really do it that day) and I got it to hang on the prop (the first time was the best, lasting only a few seconds).
This day stands out in that it is the first time that I've really crashed. (I'm not counting nosewheel-first landings as crashes because they only damage the prop.) I found out that R/C planes have some sort of attraction to trees. In the several times I've taken off in my yard, my plane hasn't veered to one direction by very much. Not today. I made a take-off attempt, but it turned right and headed straight for a tree. I was able to get it stopped before it got there. I set the plane further to the left for my next go, and at first, everything was fine. But, for some reason, it turned to the right again, and headed straight for that tree. Even though I was applying full left rudder, then left aeileron after lift-off, it continued it's course to the tree. I don't know why I never pulled the power back either. But, my plane hit the middle of the tree about 4 feet above the ground.
Despite this bad news, I have some good news. The damage was minor. The only thing that broke was the sheet balsa that butts up to the trailing edge of the wing. The leading edge of the wing received 4-5 dents, and only one is very big. I'll have to remove the covering from the LE to repair it, but hey, I was thinking of recovering it with yellow anyways. So all in all, my first crash isn't a big deal at all.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 11:16 PM CDT
Monday, 3 May 2004
8th flight 5-3-04
I went back to Steve's, took Alan along this time. Today was really nice for flying. No clouds, light wind, and mowed grass, pretty much perfect. Steve flew 'Whuzat' again. I'm still impressed with it. I can't get over how much better the four-stroke sounds compared to my two-stroke engine.
I took Susie up again and had a good flight. On one of my low passes, I noticed that the nose gear was bent back even further than before. So I decided I should try bending it back and turning it around so that the spring coil would flex in the correct direction after I got it back on the ground. (The gear being backwards probably made it a little easier to get all those prop strikes I've had in the past because it was easy to bend backwards.) Since I wasn't able to land the last time I was there, I wondered if I would be able to this time. I tried a couple of times of coming over the power lines then descending, which allowed me to be lined up with the wind better. And like before, it didn't work well. So Steve suggested that I land at an angle so that I can fly around the last pole so that I can have a better final approach. I tried that out with a couple of low approaches, and decided I should go for a landing. That turned out to be one of my smoothest approaches I've made. So yeah, I was happy.
While Steve flew his plane again, I worked on that nose gear. I now have it straight, and turned the correct direction, so it shouldn't bend as easily anymore. I flew again and had a good flight. The landing went well until after I was on the ground. I'm assuming it was because of the crosswind, but my plane tipped over onto two wheels and a wingtip. That showed an advantage to flying on a grass strip: you don't mess up the prop very easily. Yep, another nice day of flying.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 9:00 PM CDT
7th flight, 4-19-04 (I think)
I went to Steve's house to meet him for the first time. He showed me his shop and his planes. He's got five, all but one are profile. The biggest is currently under construction. One that got my interest a bit is a SPAD. I've been on a SPAD kick lately, so it was nice to get to see one up close again. He didn't fly that one, but he flew another (called 'Whuzat') that he took plans for a smaller plane and scaled them up so he could use an O.S. 70 four-stroke in. He put on a pretty nice show. But what do you expect from a guy that has been an R/C pilot longer than I've been alive.
He has a computer radio, so he can mix channels. This made it possible for him to mix the ailerons with the elevator, so that they moved in oposite directions. The result: really tight loops, and fast pitch changes. The plane also has a lot of wing area, and large control surfaces with lots of throw, so he could hang around with hardly no airspeed.
After he landed, I started mine up. Since the grass was a bit long, I couldn't take off on my first try. But I was good to go on the second run. It was a pretty good day to fly, 10 knot or so wind out of the south. It was a bit tricky for me to try to land due to obstacles. On one end there are power lines and trees, and on the other, a building and a few other items. If I was really sharp at landing, I could have landed, but I'm not that good. After clearing the power lines, I would always end up going too fast when I got really low. One nice thing about having an experienced R/C pilot standing next to you is that you can hand over the controls to him, and your plane comes back to Earth safely.
After that, it started raining a little bit, so we just stood around and chatted for a while. Steve is a really nice guy, so it was really nice getting to meet him.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 8:40 PM CDT
Wednesday, 14 April 2004
6th flight 4-14-04
After a month of not flying, I had the time to fly and decent weather. The wind was a bit of a trick. It was coming from about the worst direction possible for my flying location. When I was on the taxiway next to the hangar, the wind was at a reduced speed, but turbulent since it was going around and over the buildings. When I was on the other taxiway, I had a good crosswind.
Before giving it much thought after getting the engine running good, I opened the throttle and took off. I flew around a bit trying to get comfortable with the controls again. I did that a little too long, and by the time I decided I should try landing, I was past my normal flight time. After making a few failed attempts at landing, I ran out of fuel. Luckily, I was at a decent attitude and possition over the taxiway. I was kinna scared that I would mess up the landing, since it was a little hard to keep it tracking straight with the crosswind. I ended up making an okay touchdown.
After refueling, I tried it again. This time I didn't wait quite so long before landing. The wind made flying kinna interesting. At about half throttle, if I was heading south, the plane was barely moving. But as soon as I turned north, it picked up a lot of groundspeed. That made for some odd-looking turns. I also tried some loops and barrel rolls. I could get a loop to work out somewhat good, but I couldn't get the rolls to keep from dropping when it was inverted.
Mark had his digital camera with him, and so I made some passes so that he could get some video clips. A lot of them were too far away to see well, but one was kinna neat. I was at a high altitude, and I flew the plane directly over us then turned. It looks kinna funny on the video, since Mark had to move around weird to keep the plane in sight for the turn.
After getting low on the third tank of fuel, I had a few near crashes while trying to land. When I did get to land, I had a light prop-strike. After fueling up, I tried it again, and had another prop-strike. So I figured it was time to call it quits, and it was getting dark anyhow.
It was nice to get my plane back in the air. Although I had a couple bad landings, I did have a couple good ones. All in all, it was a good flying day.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 10:25 PM CDT
Saturday, 20 March 2004
5th flying day 3-13-04
This wasn't a good flying day. I had many bad approaches. My plane didn't look like it was flying straight. I broke a prop. I had one wingtip strike the ground while performing a touch-and-go. I almost returned my plane to a pile of balsa when I couldn't tell which direction it was going while low to the ground. It was banked one direction, and I thought it was heading a different direction than what it actually was going, so when I tried to roll the wings level, I increased the bank. It took a few seconds before I stopped being confused and getting my thumbs going in the right directions. I finally recoved from a short, banked dive about 5 feet above the ground.
I had a lot more details written, but I accidently pushed some key on my keyboard, and it selected all the text and deleted it before I could even blink.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 1:13 AM CST
Sunday, 7 March 2004
4th. flying day SOLO!
Yesterday, 3-6-04, I got a little brave with my R/C flying abilities. I went out the the airport only with Jennifer, instead of having an R/C pilot with me like every other time. It was also a bit different in that I wasn't using the normal area for my runway. The wind was out of the south, and so I didn't want to land next to the hangar and have turbulance while landing, like the day before. There was only one plane flying at the airport, but it was flying a closed pattern, so it was pretty easy to keep track of it, especially with Jennifer keeping an eye out for it. Since that plane wasn't using the main taxiway, I used it for my runway so that I could take off and land with pretty much a direct headwind. I was a bit suprised though, I didn't feel nervous about not having someone out there that really knows about R/C planes like I thought I would. After between 5 and 10 minutes of flying, I decided I better top off the tank. I was a bit concerned about how well the landing would go due to the day before, but then I thought that it probably had a lot to do with the wind. So I lined up on the taxiway, but I was a lot farther away than normal. The plane was drifting slowly to the left, and I didn't correct enough for it. So when it touched down, it went off the taxiway and nosed into the grass. I'm glad that happened where it did, because there was a taxiway edge light a lot closer than I would have liked to where it went into the grass.
As I was bringing the plane back so I could fill it up and fly again, Jen and I got to talking about what it does when it stalls. So I told her I would show her a stall during my next flight. Besides, I'd only stalled it one other time (my first flying day) and I knew I needed to get a better idea of how slow it can go before stalling so that I can make a little slower approaches to landing. So after I took off and climed up to what I felt was three mistakes high I went for a power-off stall. I eased the power back, and as the plane slowed down, I pulled back to maintain altitude. I noticed that I wasn't completely at idle, so I pulled the throttle the rest of the way back. Right there stuff hit the fan. Although I couldn't see that the prop stoped, I could tell that things were quiet, too quiet. All I could think was "UHOH, this good be very bad!" Although I don't recall consciously thinking about having to make a dead-stick landing when I tried to stall, I must have sub-consciously thought about it because I was high, pretty close to and heading towards my runway when this happened. So I glided over my runway, turned downwind, held that so I could get a good idea of the glidepath, then turned base to final. (Just like every time I've practiced this in full-size planes.) I think I made my best landing up to that point. I had a pretty stable descent and I made a smooth touch-down. I was then able to turn it towards my car so that I wouldn't have to carry it as far to get the engine going again. Yes, it felt pretty good
I adjusted the mixture after that and got it so it would idle a little better. I don't want to have to deal with another dead-stick landing. This flight went pretty good. I tried a barrel-roll, but it went pretty much like the very first time I tried it, because it didn't work out very well. I also did a couple of loops that worked out fairly well. I came in for another good landing, but I touched down a lot farther south than I wanted to (I don't want my plane getting too close to the FBO) so I made it a touch and go. I can't get over how quickly my plane speeds up. After about two seconds of rolling with full-throttle, I rotated and was able to make a pretty steep climbing turn so that I could get back to where I'm supposed to be flying. My next landing was the best one I've ever had. I had a stable descent and a smooth touch-down. Man that felt good to be able to do it right. I taxied back to my car, then went around in circles a few times just for the fun of it. I then ran up the engine to clear it out, then pitched the line so that there wouldn't be much fuel sitting in the engine. Now that was a good flying day.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 2:43 PM CST
3rd. flying day
On Friday afternoon, 3-5-04, I was able to round up both of my fellow R/C pilots and I had a couple hours before going to work. So we all went to the airport. This time, Tank brought his Great Planes Super Sportster because the tail broke off of his Four-Star a few days ago. We both have the same channel, so both planes being up was out of the question. Well it never was there anyhow because I really like watching him fly, and I'm just not comfortable enough with flying to have my plane anywhere near another. One thing that was kinna annoying is the fact that my plane used to rattle only at this one RPM that was slightly above idle, but today, it rattled no matter what. (I later noticed that some of the foam has moved around, so I think my fuel tank is touching something, but I won't be able to remedy that until I go home next weekend, because I left my foam sheet at home.) I also felt like I couldn't get the mixture right, and it always sounded like it was slightly rich, although now that I think about it, I may have just been hearing the rattle, and not a rich engine. The flying went pretty good, until I tried to land. There is a small ditch that runs right next to the ramp area, and the other side of the ditch comes up a foot or two higher than the concrete. I turned final too early, so I was making my approach right along the edge of the conrete. Just before touchdown, I gave a bad control input I guess, but my plane was in a pretty good left bank, right above the ground. So I applied full throttle and climbed. As it went over that slightly raised area of ground, it seemed like the left wing cleared the ground by about a foot. I made a few more approaches that still came out to far out, so Alan told me to stand where I wanted my plane to land at, turn final late, then walk back out of the way. This allowed me to get lined up a lot better. I was making an okay approach, but the wind was a little gusty, and from a bad direction considering there were hangars right by where I was going to land. So basically when I was right above the ground, the bad wind combination caused my plane to make a porpoise action right above the ground. It resulted in the prop striking the ground and killing the engine. Luckily, it barely scratched my prop.
It was then Tank's turn at flying, and he put on a pretty good show again. Unfortunately, when he was making a low inverted pass (about 8-10ft. high) the engine quit. He rolled it upright, and turned back around, but this put him over the grass. The grass was long and thick, and stoped the plane really fast. This fast stop ripped one of the gear legs out of the wing. This hasn't been a good week for Tank.
It was then my turn to fly again. I had another bad landing. I don't think this time had anything to do with the wind, because I never flared before touch-down. So I made the bad kind of a two-point landing, the nose wheel and the prop. (The good kind of two-point is the main wheels.) I think I just froze or something, because I didn't even try to pull the nose up. Since my plane hit the ground pretty fast, it bounced back up in the air a couple of feet, and I was able to make pretty much normal landing from there. After retreiving my plane, I saw a nearly half-inch area on the tip of one blade that had been sanded off. So I decided it was time to change the prop. Let me tell you, using a spinner nut makes this process a whole lot easier, as you only have to unscrew one thing, instead of three, and you don't have to line anything up.
I went for a third flight, and I had another porpoise before landing, and so I had yet another prop-strike. This was pretty discouraging, because my first attempts at landing the other day went pretty good, but now they sucked.
Tank decided to fly again so he took the other gear leg off, and he had Alan hand-launch it. After a bit, he let Alan fly it for a couple minutes because we had two planes out there, and up to this point, Alan hadn't flown today. I didn't notice any difference in how it flew, but I'm sure it had a slightly higher top speed and roll rate. So having no gear worked good until it was time to land. Of course, Tank set up for a landing in the grass. A belly landing on grass makes for about a 10 ft landing roll. But, I guess there were some stick out there, because there were a couple of holes punched in the bottom of the wing, and it broke off one blade on his prop.
It was kinna good getting the flight time in, although it was pretty annoying that each landing was bad. Those bad landings made me wonder if it would be the same the next time I flew, or if it was just a bad day for me. But hey, I am just that much more used to fly and comfortable with it.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 1:59 PM CST
Saturday, 28 February 2004
Annoying day at the flying field
Well today's attempt to fly had some good points, but mostly bad points. The good parts was getting to watch Tank fly his Sig Four-Star. He can put on a pretty decent aerobatic performance. The bad points were with my plane, specifically the engine. After I started up, it wouldn't run correctly. Every other time, it would idle pretty reliably and slow. But not today, it went from a really fast idle to dead with only a few clicks of the throttle. After Tank fiddled with it for a while, he noticed that the carb moved around a little bit, so he looked closely at it. Turns out, one of the two screws that holds the carb on was missing. That explained why it wouldn't run right. All that air getting in without going through the carb makes it a little difficult to get the mixture set right. Tank has quite a few spare screws, so I looked through everything trying to find a replacement screw, but I had no luck. So I didn't get to fly today. To make it even worse, while I was putting my plane back in my car, Tank noticed that the screw that holds on the control horn for the rudder and nosewheel was missing. I appearently have a bad engine vibration problem, because other stuff has loosened up before. So I'm going to have to find ways to secure all the screws, but have it so that I can still remove them if needed.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 1:28 AM CST
Monday, 23 February 2004
Second flight, first landing
On 2-21-04, I rounded up Alan and David and we went back to the airport for some more flying. It was a really good day for it. The wind was calm most of the time, but it did pick up a little bit on occassion. The only thing that could be considered a problem is the fact that several planes were taking off and landing, so we had to keep an eye out for them all the time.
Alan took off and flew for a few minutes to check everything out again, and to see which direction would be the best to use for landing. He didn't have a good landing this time though. He misjudged the planes location over the ground just before touchdown, and he ended up landing in the grass about two feet from the concrete. Since this isn't a golf course, the grass was a bit on the tall side, so Susie went up on her nose and stayed there. Luckily, all it did was kill the engine. I topped off the tank, started it up, and took off. I flew around a bit, just trying to get a little more comfortable with the controls. I was set on making a landing, so I made a few low approaches to try to get a handle on how to set up the approach. I think my main problem was coming in high and fast.
I decided that I had a decent enough feel for the approach to make a landing. I ended up landing quite a bit long, and I went around to go for another landing. I landed long again, but made this one a full stop so I could get some more fuel. After that, I taxied all the way down to the far end of my runway. I can't remember if it was this takeoff, or while climbing out from one of my low approaches, but I got a lot closer to hitting the hangar than I liked. Anyway, I heading for the hangar, but I pulled up and made it climb over the hangar, and turned back towards the open area. That got my adrenaline pumping for sure. After a few more trips around the patch, I let Alan take it so that I could check the time since I had to go to work pretty soon. Alan tried out some aerobatics. On the first flying day, he tried a barrel roll, but it didn't come out very good (I have a trainer, not an aerobat). But today, he was able to make a pretty nice one. He also performed a pretty nice loop. After I had the controls again, I tried a barrel roll, and it worked out OK. As was my standard for the day, I made another landing that was a lot closer to me that I wanted, but I was able to get it slowed down before I ran out of runway.
I now feel pretty confident in my ability to fly my plane, but I really think I will have Alan with me at least the next time or two before I will fly without an experienced R/C pilot with me.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 1:38 PM CST
First R/C flight
On 2-2-04, I finally got to do what I felt like I would never get to do, fly my R/C plane! After checking with the airport manager about flying it at the airport, I went to the spot he told me about, along with Alan, Mark, and Paul. The area in question was the taxiway north of the hangars. It was a bit windy that day, and a guy from the FBO kept saying I would crash because he crashed his plane in less wind a few days before. Luckily for me, the wind was perfectly lined up with the 'runway' I had. After I got the plane set up, we discussed whether or not we should try flying the plane on that particular day or not. After we decided to go ahead and give it a try, I fueled it up. Then Alan thought we should check the C.G. I didn't remember exactly where it was supposed to be at (I finished building back in like June) but I knew that with the full fuel tank, the current C.G. was going to be ahead of the C.G. listed in the manual anyway. So Alan said that it is typically right around the wing spar, so we tried that out. It came out really tail-heavy. This lead to more debate because I remembered testing it when I was building, and it balanced perfectly on the correct location without needing any weights, but Alan thought that it was way too far aft. (I found out later that it is supposed to be a ways back, about in the middle of the wing, instead of 1/4 chord or so.) Alan finally agreed to give it a try, but said he will try to keep the speed up to keep it from entering a un-recoverable stall. Alan took off and tested out the controls. Man that was cool getting to see a plane that I built fly! It did require full nose-down trim and a little forward stick pressure, but it was flying pretty good. Alan took it around the patch a few times, then attempted to land, which turned out to be a pretty good one. We decided to adjust the elevator push-rod so that it would have a little 'manual' trim, then Alan tried it out again. Somewhere at this point, I think, Alan mentioned that it had been a few years since he had flown R/C. I didn't know what to think about that. I probably wouldn't have been so anxious to let him test out MY airplane if I had known this before the first flight. But, as far as I could tell, he flew like a seasoned pro.
After Alan had my plane at a safe altitude, he turned the controls over to me. I was pretty nervous and immediately saw why I should get a neckstrap for my transmitter. My hands were getting sweaty and I felt like I was going to drop my transmitter. But I flew around for a bit, and Alan was impressed with my handling. I did have a problem with turns though, mainly because there is a certain part of the turn when you can't tell which way the plane is pointing. To make that even worse, you can't tell which wing was going up, and which was going down. So I learned that you just have to establish a turn, hold the control inputs, and wait for it to come around, and hope you are doing it right. I also learned that you can make a wide turn get really tight really fast by applying too much elevator back-pressure. I didn't feel I was ready yet for landing, and it was getting dark, so I let Alan have the controls again to bring it in for another nice landing.

Posted by globemaster3c17 at 11:44 AM CST

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