26 Degrees and Sunny

The bike and the mini-wing with the electric fuselage.

The bike and the mini-wing with the electric fuselage.

Perfect weather for flying? Well, no, actually. Although we are in the middle of a two day heatwave and today was comfortably cooler than yesterday, the flying conditions were very unusual this morning. Firstly, I was on the bike as my lift is on holiday this week, but I bumped into my friend with the HobbyZone Champ as he was walking across the field with his bike. Now, I’ve flown his Champ in all sorts of windy conditions well outside what it was designed for, but today it just didn’t seem settled at all. Even so, I managed 17 minutes from the first flight with a 150mAH battery which is really good going as I managed to find quite a few thermals and was able to turn the power off completely for extended periods of time.

After flying the Champ (apparently it’s really an Aeronca) I assembled the mini flying wing and had my first flight with that for quite some time. The assembled crowd were really interested to see it fly, so I warned them that my launches usually end up throwing it into the ground as the wing needs to be moving in order for the tips to generate the stabilising force to counteract the aerofoil’s natural negative pitching moment. The only way to launch it is to be positive, which I proved when the first attempt headed skywards at a rate of knots. It flew really well for about five minutes, then I brought it down, mainly as a precaution as I still don’t know how long it flies for. Post flight analysis showed that the pack was still at 76%, so the answer is at least 10 minutes.

The next flight was the Champ again, but on giving it back to its owner to fly, he immediately ended up so far downwind that I had a real job to bring it back. Then, in demonstrating how fierce the wind was on the downwind leg, I ended up doing exactly the same thing and had the power cut when it was still half way across the field. To be fair though, the wind was really throwing it around and it was going backwards for a lot of the flight.

Next up was another flight with the flying wing, which seemed to be flying much better in these conditions. I even managed a roll, but it did scare the life out of me. Wings are strange aerodynamic beasts and the roll was in stages, more barrel than you would imagine possible and losing a huge amount of height. I didn’t want to push my luck too much, as I also seemed to be having a problem with the motor and speed controller exceeding its RPM limits on maximum throttle and skipping. This didn’t happen on the first flight, so I need to check the motor. I probably need to rethink the whole power train anyway, as it would go a lot better if it was a bit lighter.

We were both beaten to the flying field this morning by the guy who used to have the two delta rays. He was there with his wife and two kids, while one of them was flying a combination of an EPP SuperCub and a foam board F22. Both aircraft flew really well, but the F22 did look unusual because of its strange shape in the air (and I’m flying a wing).

Part way through the morning another guy turned up with a Sniper II, which is 3D profile plane very similar to my RS352.  After a number of attempts at taking off from the ground the prop came off and nobody had any allen keys. We watched his plane as he went off to a nearby hardware store to get some, and the prop was firmly attached after what seemed like an enormously long wait (he got lost apparently). His next attempt at taking off nosed over on the long grass and sheared the spinner off. Having lost his nerve a bit, he asked me to get it in the air, so I checked out the damaged to the spinner and prop, which just looked like the spinner had sheared off at the screw holes. Anyway, I put the aircraft on the ground, applied throttle progressively and up it went. I offered him the transmitter almost straight away as it was flying perfectly, but he wouldn’t take it, so I checked out the balance with some dive tests, then loops to check lateral balance. Everything was spot on, apart from a tendency to screw out of an outside loop to the right. Also, he has nowhere near the amount of rudder movement that I have, but that might be a good thing. Checks complete and I landed it and handed it back. Only when he was fitting the battery to fly himself did he discover that the prop was damaged by the earlier aborted take-off, so that was it for the day.

We did get another two additional visitors though, in the form of a guy with a DJI Inspire and his helper on an electric unicycle. They had a few flights with it in order to set it up and take some pictures. He’s apparently doing his accreditation to fly commercially, so he was getting in some practice while the weather was good.

That’s it for another week, but the ATOM is still coming along really well. I’ve got all the head linkages installed and I’m planning to make the canopy tomorrow. You never know, but it might actually be flying soon?

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