The ATOM Autogyro flew again!
OK, so I had two attempts where it ran along the ground, jumped into the air, wanted to go vertical again and turned around to the left, heading back towards us before I managed to effect a landing (sort of). There was one other aborted take-off when I recognised that the head speed was too low as it was rolling left. Then after that a four minute flight. I didn’t realise until afterwards, but that is the first time it’s ever taken off from the ground. All the other flights have been hand launches.
My strategy this time was simple. Put it on the ground and wait for the wind to spin the rotors up to flying speed. Then apply throttle and run along the runway trying to make it hop into the air, then back down again. The reality was that the wind refused to blow when I wanted it and I stood there waiting for so long this morning that I clocked up 1h5m on my radio’s timer. I had several goes on and off while the wind did its thing, but I think the thrust line might be wrong based on the two near misses. The first time it ran along the runway, jumped into the air and immediately wanted to go vertical, apart from me adding a lot of down and backing the motor power off very quickly. Taking off from the ground rather than doing a hand launch meant that my fingers were already on the sticks as it lifted. This resulted in it turning around to the left and heading back towards us, but I just about managed to hit the ground softly enough for a second go. The next time the wind was favourable, the second attempt was largely the same as the first, but now I had the rotor head adjusted on the elevator trim to be much further forward. Also, it was noticeable that I could control it when the power was off, so the trick would seem to be not to use full throttle. When I had a third go, it sailed away and climbed into the air with me in control but under less power. What followed after that was a four minute flight where I nearly stuffed it into the ground on at least three occasions. It ended up with full left aileron trim and full down elevator. The height loss when you turn on the ailerons is huge, so I was adding in rudder in order to bring the nose around. I have to say that there were a lot of control inputs going in just to keep the thing in the air, but it is a very different type of aircraft to fly. What I need now is to be able to get it into the air consistently so that I can trim it to fly in a more stable manner. All in all, though, it was a good day and I’m very happy.
As for the rest of the morning, I also flew a UMX Beast for somebody else and absolutely loved it. The ailerons aren’t powerful enough as they had been turned right down, but it was very easy to fly in that trim. Loops were very nice. I only got one flight with my own RS352, though, because of all the autogyro testing. Other than that, we had a guy with a Parrot Flying wing (autonomous flight) and foam Cessna High Wing aircraft. Then another guy with a custom built F450 drone, another with a Mavic and a third with a DJI Phantom. The best aircraft belonged to the guy with the foam jet style aircraft, Eddie the eagle and a foam Vampire ducted fan. I love Vampires. You can just see it in the background of the image above, along with Eddie, who also looked great in the air.
Well, I’m happy. I flew the autogyro and it’s back in one piece, so I can make a few trimming changes before next time. Just for the record, the only difference between this and the last flight was the addition of the extra shim under the blades to give a more negative angle (and less lift). I’ll look at the thrust angle next and do a re-check on the balance point (hang angle) just to make sure. I’ve also got some video footage of the flight, so that might get posted once I’ve done some editing.