Month: October 2014

The Clocks Go Back and Autumn’s Here

It’s quite rare for me to fly in clear glasses, so, hopefully, that will give you some idea of how gloomy it was this morning. Windy too. I only managed two flights with the RS352 before calling it a day.

RS352 and Some Deer

My RS352 in the foreground, while along the line between the trees and grass, you can just see the deer.

Strangely enough, on both occasions, I managed almost perfect landings despite the windy conditions. The second landing was more of a miracle as the wind banked the aircraft 40 degrees right about 10 feet from touchdown and I had to catch it with a lot more aileron that I would like to use at that height. It was the direction and strength of the wind that really caused me the problems. Coming straight through the trees it was unpredictable and getting a lot stronger above about 40 feet in height. So much so that I was making little progress into the wind despite a forward C of G and dropping the flaps back to neutral, rather than flying with about 10 degrees of camber as I normally do. I just had the feeling that the wind was trying to throw the aircraft into the ground at every opportunity. Strangely enough, when watching a crow trying to fly close to us, it seemed to be having the same problem, so at that point I decided to call it a day.

The sun did come out briefly (causing me to switch back to the tinted lenses), and I was joined by a friend with his new Chris Foss Wots Wot and Multiplex Solius glider. The Wots Wot probably would have done really well in the wind, being that much heavier, but with both being maiden flights, we carefully avoided any mention of flying and left them on terra firma. While we were talking about Chriss Foss aircraft and my own 20 year old Wot 4, we came up with a brilliant idea. I would really like to see my Wot 4 fly again, but it would need a lot of work, so why not do a scaled down version instead? It would be amazing with a small electric motor and the name just makes itself up: “A Quarter Wot”.

Just as I was going, somebody else turned up with two high wing type ARTF aircraft that I didn’t recognise (Cessna types?). I left before seeing him fly them as the dark clouds were closing in, encouraged by the increasingly gale force wind.

Still Waiting for Winter

Despite being the first day for a while that I’ve felt cold, the weather actually wasn’t too bad this week. Any early fog had lifted, some sunshine had warmed things up a bit and the clouds and wind didn’t appear until later in the morning. It was also quite busy with a large helicopter being flown when I arrived and numerous flights with a very interesting Mustang and F22 made out of foam board. The Mustang had a removable power system, with the motor, prop and ESC coming out through the front, meaning that two different power systems could be tested. Both flew very well, put apparently they’re not waterproof, as the board absorbs moisture. The Advance made a few flights, along with the four flights I had with my RS352. My HubSan quadcopter still isn’t working and dropped from about 3 metres onto the grass, so I didn’t attempt any more flights. In addition to this, some new people had travelled a long way to test a new hex copter, along with another quad they had which had already flown before.

The new hex copter looked rather large and powerful, but didn’t last long before tilting to about 30 degrees and crashing into the ground with the owner running towards it. Luckily this didn’t happen when it was over our heads, but something had obviously gone wrong and he lost control. The other quad faired better, but had a habit of shedding the prop guards, which is rather worrying if you consider what would happen if one of these ended up in the blades in close proximity to people. The flights with this all started off much too close to the pit area, which shows how little awareness some of these multi-rotor fliers have for aviation in general. This is another example of a quad being written off in fairly windy conditions where the operator didn’t have either the understanding or experience to fly it safely.

Having said that, the owner of the Blade 350 was just arriving as I left, presumably with a new body shell. Hopefully his newly repaired quad survived the outing as it was getting a bit windy by this point as the forecast bad weather was moving in. Just before this, though, another flyer who I haven’t seen for some time turned up with his little boy, two gliders and a rocket. The rocket was really good, separating into a section that parachuted down and a helicopter section. We didn’t think the parachute was going to open, but after losing about half its height, we cheered as the canopy unfolded.

As for my own flying, the RS352 wasn’t handling right. It actually felt like the left wing was a bit heavier, as it kept dropping the left wing. Trim wasn’t really fixing it as it was still coming out of manoeuvres requiring corrective action to pick the wing up. Straight and level it would always have a tendency to turn in that way, so I’m going to have to do some more investigation. Also, the motor hasn’t sounded right the last couple of weeks. Looking at the prop adapter, it doesn’t appear to be running straight, but the shaft isn’t bent as it’s still running true, so some further maintenance is in order. I did get some of my flights recorded by the guy with the foam board aircraft using his GoPro camera. For recording his own flights he uses a head mounted Go Pro held on his head with flexible straps. I had thought of trying something similar, but either transmitter mounted or using a baseball cap.

Finally, I’ve bought some new knife blades and started cutting out the parts for the Atom Autogyro. I’ve no idea how I’m going to make the head mechanism yet though.

Autumn Sunshine

I thought it was going to be cold, but Sun is quite pleasantly warm this week and there is almost no wind.

Checking out the natives

Checking out the natives hiding in the grass

I managed three flights with the RS352, plus two with somebody else’s Champ, while also spending a lot of the time tinkering with the Hubsan X4. The first flight with the HubSan was fine, then it started showing the same problem as before, where the power would cut as soon as there was any load on the propellers. I thought it was fixed, but obviously not. As for the RS352, my prop hangs are coming along quite nicely, but the snap roll definitely needs some work.

A lot of people turned up this week, with the Blade 350 Quad, Advance, Champ and also someone I haven’t seen for a very long time flying a ParkZone Stryker, plus the French guy who flies HLG. There was also a French/Italian family who turned up right at the end with a Spitfire, AcroWot, a high wing aircraft (super Cub?) and a micro aircraft similar to the Champ (Cessna?). I felt a bit guilty watching them smash the nose off the Spitfire, but communication was a bit of an issue. First flight was from the ground and it nosed over onto the prop. Second flight was a hand launch which didn’t have enough speed and ended in the ground. Third flight was too little speed from another hand launch which was almost straight up with too little power. It almost flew, but crashed sideways into the grass, taking the nose with it. When I was leaving I could see the high wing aircraft racing around the sky, so next time I’ll try and talk to them a bit more.

I’ve now got a set of templates for the RCM&E Atom Autogyro sitting on my workbench, so I’m off to find some wood and make myself a kit of parts. It’s been a while since I’ve built something, so I’m a bit out of practice, but I am determined to build myself an autogyro as I’ve always been fascinated by them.