Komet

Although it’s quite cold this morning, the weather is perfectly flyable again with bright sunshine and just a little wind. Actually, the wind changed back and forth through 180 degrees all morning which was interesting when landing and taking off. I also got to fly a UMX SpaceWalker and launch a foam Me163 Komet.

The drones didn’t make an appearance until much later in the morning, so we had a big yellow Fun Cub, EFlite Advance, Me163 Komet (straight from Hobby King), the UMX Spacewalker and a HubSan X4, two bungee launched gliders, plus my RS352. Part way through the morning a guy with a young kid arrived and they both flew what looked like one of those Syma quadcopters some way off from where we were. Then, just as we were leaving, somebody arrived with a DJI Phantom.

It’s not easy taking pictures of aircraft with a smart phone. I’m really going to have to get a proper camera with a lens, but you can just about see the Fun Cub against the blue sky and white fluffy clouds.

I flew the Spacewalker first, which has an enormous amount of dihedral for such a small light plane. Even with all that dihedral, though, it was still very unstable in the conditions. It wasn’t particularly windy, but it wasn’t flat clam and there seemed to be a lot of low level turbulence with the wind changing direction all the time. I ended up putting about 50% right trim in to keep it from rolling left, but the flight was over all too quickly. The battery gave up on me and I ended up landing in the long grass near some deer, who didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by either me or the plane.

After the Spacewalker, we tried to make the HubSan X4 work, but it seemed to be having the same problem as my old one used to. It would turn on and bind, but was completely unresponsive to the controls. After fiddling around with it for quite a while and trying the reset trick, we gave up. Then I had a flight with my RS352, after which I launched the Me163 Komet.

Although the Komet has a set of dolly wheels, it was never going to get off the ground from the rough grass, so the pilot chose to eject them before the first flight. This would be really brilliant to do in flight as it’s a scale representation of what the real ones did. They would take off using a dolly undercarriage which got left on the ground as the plane took to the air. The model uses a servo channel to drop the wheels off, but it did get a bit stuck on this occasion and the wheels had to be coaxed off by gentle shaking. Now, for an aircraft which has a long, flat, central fuselage underneath, it’s remarkably hard to get a good grip on it. Made from foam, the surface is quite slippery and in the end I elected to do a two handed throw holding the front just ahead of the wing and the flat bit at the back behind the wing. This is similar to the single handed throw I used to use with the low wing Tucano, allowing me to push through the aircraft to give it a decent launch speed. Holding the front gives me the ability to control the attitude and get a flat launch. This turned out to be a good decision because, as I was launching it, I could feel that the prop wasn’t biting into the airflow enough to produce decent thrust. I went longer on the launch, gave it a huge push from behind and it sailed into the air. After 10-15 metres it was on step and flying.

A quick glance a the pictures above and you would think that it was a commercial jet cruising at 10,000 feet, but look closely and you can see that it’s the Komet.

In the air it was very quick to roll, so the pilot used the 50% rates and it was still quick, but flying very nicely. Unfortunately, the first flight ended in a bit of an incident when he was rolling it to show how quick it was, got disorientated and pulled up into the ground when it was actually inverted. We all saw how hard it hit the ground at an angle between wing tip and nose. The foam construction must have absorbed the impact and saved it because there was no visible damage apart from the pitot tube coming off, a broken prop and stress marks along the wing and nose where the impact was. Very impressive.

Over the rest of the morning I managed another 3 flights with my RS352, but I’m still having problems with the pop adapter sliding off. I’ve been re-tightening it every flight, especially after the second flight where I managed some very good prop hanging. I cut the next flight short after that due to a sudden control problem which I still don’t understand. After doing loops, cuban 8s, stall turns and flick rolls, there was a sudden right aileron roll that I didn’t initiate, followed by what I felt was a very sluggish aileron response. It was in a good position to land so I did, but I can’t find anything wrong. In the air I was reminded of the time one of the aileron servos locked, but it must have just been the funny low level turbulence we had been experiencing all morning. I put the next battery in, climbed into the air and it was all normal, so a proper check of the aircraft is in order this evening.

That’s it for this week, except to say that I have made some progress with the ATOM AutoGyro and have the motor and speed controller installed. Now that it’s got power, I can connect up the radio and servos and see the head work for the first time. I’m going to try and make an effort to get this finished now as it needs to fly.

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