Strike Three

It was quite a nice morning this morning, with lots of people turning up with interesting aircraft, but I managed to crash two models and watched a Hurricane spiral into the ground.

When I turned up we already had a UMX SpaceWalker and F27 Stryker, the only problem was finding a battery that worked for the SpaceWalker and trying to attach it without any velcro or tape as neither of us had brought any. I eventually secured the battery with an elastic band around the fuselage and we went off to fly it. I’ve flown this aeroplane lots of times so I’m quite comfortable with it, but on a couple of occasions I had tried to turn back towards myself and nothing happened. With a model this light it isn’t that unusual, but there was another period when it flew over our heads with no control before the radio picked up again. Now, I was circling at a sensible height right in front of myself when it suddenly drops the right wing, I go with it and pick up 360 degrees around the turn, then the left wing drops and it goes into a spiral that I can’t recover from. Naturally I had cut the power at the top, so there was no real impact with the long grass helping out, so no damage was done. Inspecting it on the ground, everything still worked and the battery was still wedged in the correct place, so I don’t really know what happened.

Next, we started to set up the Stryker, which isn’t something I can remember flying before, but I’m a lot less worried flying something quick and aerobatic with plenty of power than I am flying the UMX Champ or SpaceWalker. We had another problem with batteries, but at this point also noticed that there was quite a large quadcopter parked over by the river with lots of people around it. We had been having a discussion about whether it was a table or quadcopter, but seeing it fly suggested that it was probably not a table. Anyway, we had a strange problem with the Stryker, where it turned on, but none of the controls would work. Disconnecting the battery and reconnecting it seemed to do the trick, so we launched it by holding the left wing and doing a discus type launch. This would have been fine, except that the battery chose that exact moment to give up and the BEC cut the power. I did the only thing I could and hit the grass flat, so no damage was done and we switched to a better battery. The launcher chose to do the next throw by holding the fuselage underneath, which put his fingers perilously close to the prop, but he said he usually did it this way, and it proved to be fine. The Stryker climbed away with me decreasing the power to stop it going vertical until I was far enough away that I wanted to turn back. I wanted to roll right and fly back past myself, but once the wing went over and the nose was pointing down, the elevator was completely unresponsive. From a 30 degree climb, I had rolled 180 degrees right, let the nose come down to point at the ground, zero throttle as I’m heading down at this point, then a little elevator to pick up the nose. Nothing happened up to the point where I hit the floor with full elevator. The only thing I could think of was that there was too much pressure on the elevons from blow back, but the speed was nowhere near enough for that to happen. On inspection of the crashed plane, everything appeared to be working, but the nose had taken the brunt of the impact and broken in two places. It should be easy enough to stick back together, so it will hopefully fly again. The only weird thing was that both aircraft suffered what could have been radio failure in exactly the same part of the sky.

As for the rest of the morning, I had four flights with my RS352, getting what sounded like applause from the people with the quad as I flew up and down that side of the field. We never really saw them fly it much, apart from pottering about a bit in the hover. There was another guy with his two kids who also turned up around this time and proceeded to fly down the other end of the field with an Easy Star clone. The first flight it seemed it could only turn left and spiralled off down the field, nearly hitting a tree and landing the other side of the river. The second wasn’t much better, but it was still flyable, so I went over to help them. There was too much aileron movement and the centre of gravity was at more like 50% than 33% and the canopy wouldn’t stay in place. Having seen him fly it before I did fly it for him, although I was a little reluctant with the C of G. The model is actually an Axion Alpha 139 from Ripmax (in bright orange). So, my flight was a bit hairy with it rolling left quite badly and the rearward C of G causing problems. I did a number of circuits and managed to do a classic pitch oscillation before bringing it back round for a perfect landing. I suggested he try and find some weight to put in the front before trying to fly it again, but there was nothing we had to hand.

This is the point where I went back to the middle and we watched the Hurricane taking off from the ground. Two other guys had turned up by this time, one with the Radian glider from last week, plus a new Squall HP ducted fan jet made by Phase 3 which he got in a charity shop.  The Hurricane didn’t quite make the first take-off, ripping large chunks out of the ground with its propeller. Undamaged, but with a bent U/C leg and missing tail wheel collet, I managed to find a replacement for a 2mm shaft which worked to hold the wheel on the much smaller metal wire. All it needed to do was hold the wheel on and it’s really annoying not to be able to fly for the sake of a tiny collet to hold the tail wheel on. Anyway, take-off number two was better and the Hurricane flew around for several minutes, with its main U/C legs still down because they were bent, until the pilot decided that it was time to land. At this point he managed to spiral it into the ground at almost exactly the same point that he did it before Christmas. Surprisingly, only the right wing was snapped with some superficial damage elsewhere, so it looks to be perfectly repairable. When I flew the aircraft before, I think the controls were too sensitive for the speed. It feels heavy to fly, so you need to keep an eye on the speed, but the sensitive controls make it easy to stall if you’re not careful.

I suppose the title for the post should really be “four strikes”, because the Squall HP also ended up broken, but it was whizzing around the sky like a demon up to that point. He could hand launch it quite easily, but there is a noticeable dip towards the ground before getting on step and flying away. The first landing was a bit abrupt when the ground jumped up a bit early on finals and took the pilot and all of us watching by surprise. The last flight was more of a thump into the ground, resulting in it breaking, but then he said it cost him nothing and the foam is easily repairable.

As I was leaving the guy with the Fly Baby was launching a glider, plus another father and son were flying around with a Fun Cub.

All in all it was a very busy morning. I’m rather aware that the AutoGyro really needs to fly, so I’m thinking about the Bank Holiday weekend in a couple of weeks. I stuck the canopy last weekend, so all that’s left to do is the installation and controls. The pictures are below, which look almost identical to the last ones, apart from the fact that everything is now stuck and all the gear is trial installed inside the fuselage. I just need to stick things down with velcro and route the wires. Covering it and balancing the blades are now the two main jobs remaining.

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