James May, A Toy’s Story: Glider Across the English Channel

Can a free flight glider with only the aid of an autopilot to keep it on course be successfully flown 22 miles across the English channel? Can they overcome the a bloated idiot government of France trying to stop them? Will it make landfall or crash flaming into the sea???? Are modelers the coolest people on earth or what?


Sopwith Camel and Spitfire

Hear and see two classics flying together. Great demonstration and audio of radial throttle by ignition. I think I could find a better way to remove the wheel chocks, how about you? ūüėČ


Being a Good Test Pilot: Part 4, Trim Pre Flight – Flight Plan

Our series about becoming a solid test pilot continues…..

Make sure every surface is perfectly nuetral. No slight rudder, or aileron inputs. Check the elevator for “slight up”. I would define this as the elevator being set dead nuetral then putting in about 1/32″ up or about 3 clicks of up trim. It’s always easier to control a model that is climbing too much than to fight on that is diving for the earth.

If we’ve done our job correctly, the model should fly well without any big surprises. We need a flight plan. First, how do we deal with an out of trim condition? If the model is badly out of trim, the two most important things to you are altitude and hang time to make the adjustments. You gain altitude by powering up to 100 feet at a minimum before you start trimming. I like to deal with the elevator first, then the ailerons. I am thinking of giving myself the best possible time to deal with the model. If it’s trying to pitch into the earth, constantly, you want to deal with this first. Be ready for it to climb too much as we started the flight out of trim to the upside on purpose. If it’s only a few clicks off, put the clicks in. If it’s a bunch more than that, slow down a bit, this will give you more time to input the elevator trim. Likewise, if the model is rolling to the right or left, start clicking in trim until it’s neutral. If by chance it’s rolling aggressively, to one side and you fell under pressure to get the adjustment in quickly before the model rolls over on you, try slowing down a bit, putting the model in a slight climb and rolling to about 45 degrees opposite the direction it’s out of trim. By doing so, you give your self a little hang time to get the adjustment in. I’ve seen models crashed because the pilot was a bit over his head with the model badly out of adjustment and they just kept fighting it without ever thinking to slow the model down.

Once we get the model in trim, the first act of business is to climb higher, perhaps to 200 or 300 feet. Do a couple of transitions into a stall, in effect a simulated landing 2 or 3 mistakes high. We want to get a fell for what speed the model is going to stall at and if it has any nasty snap tendency to one side or the other. Do this high just in case. Once you feel comfortable you can land it, fly a few figure 8’s to get a feel for control balance and rates.

By now we should be at around the 2 minute point in the flight. Land it and inspect for excessive motor/esc/battery heat, fuel leaks, jittering servos, loose control horns and the works. A general inspection is in order prior to flying again. If all is well go for it again.

Special notes for electric models: I like to spend 3 to 5 flights working my way up to a full power full aggression full length flight. If something is going to overheat and be damaged. Slowly working up my flight duration and aggressiveness gives me a chance to pinpoint any heat problems in the power system before damaging a major component. Maybe something needs more airflow or perhaps a propeller adjustment is in order.

Pay attention to how many mah your charger is putting back in the pack after each flight. This way you can get a good idea of your maximum safe flight time without ever hitting BEC cut off.

Take a minute to explain any improvements or adjustments you think the model needs. Perhaps if you have too much aileron trim in, you can look at taking a warp out of the wing if it exists or put in some sub trim so you can neutralize your radio trims.

It’s always a good idea if the owner makes these changes to put it up and reset it to good trims for them.

For my own models, I don’t really consider them ready to sport fly until I’ve put on a number of flights and gotten the throws just right. It’s always a good idea to look at any model as a work in progress for a while. Any model can be made to fly and handle better. Your worth the effort.


Being A Good Test Pilot: Part 2, Setup

Part 2 in an ongoing series about being a good test pilot. These articals are less about step by step hand holding instructions and more about how to think. We continue….

I always conduct an interview of sorts to fill in the blanks of things I may not be aware of such as level of experience, how long the project took, what the MFG says about CG location, suggested weight, what does it actually weigh and etc…. What your fishing for anything that could be a surprise. After the crash, you don’t want to hear the builder say “I thought 1/2″ behind reccomended CG was close enough?!?!”. Your looking for any shortcuts or oversights in the model. Did they use the reccommended servo’s or at least close? Is the battery large enough? How old is it? If the RX is new, has it been run a while? If the RX has come from another model, was it flying fine or did it’s last flight end in a crash? Has the TX been performing well? Are there any used or harvested components in the systems?

Always check the CG against common sense and what the builder says it should be. NEVER trust that it is right. Hold the model up in the air and check it yourself. Measure if you must. There is NO excuse for crashing over a missed CG check.

Control surface throws: I’ve run into many first time builders that started with a few foamy’s, have built their first sport or scale model and they put throws in the model that look like the 3d foamy they’ve most recently been flying. Not realizing the throws apropriate for a 25-30mph ship will be grossly excessive in a 70mph aircraft. Besides asking about suggested throws, apply your own stink test. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t right. I like throws for a test flight just a tad on the high side of suggested first setups. However, you can take this way too far and end up with an over sensitive model. A model that is way out of trim and also way too sensitive is a real handful. Don’t walk into any such traps. Also, if a throw such as the elevator is too low and the model turns out to have an incidence or nose heavy problem, you might not be able to land at a reasonable speed and hold the nose up. Too little therefor can be just as bad a mistake. Try to be reasonable about what’s correct for “this” model. Generally, the faster it flys, the lower the throws should be. Something else to aid here is look for similar level of throws. If the ailerons are deflecting 30 degrees and the elevator only 15 degree’s perhaps the throws will be “out of balance”. Out of balance controls would be one control being sensitive and antoher being soft. This is more difficult to process in your brain when your under pressure trimming out a difficult model. Consider it before proceding.

To Be Continued……..


Dayton marks 100 year anniversary of Wright death Friday May 30, 2012

Wilbur Wright
Bells will toll and a moment of silence will be held across the Dayton area on Friday in honor of the 100th anniversary of the death of Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 ‚Äď May 30, 1912)……..

Read the full story here.

Film was taken in Italy on April 24, 1907. It is the first time a motion picture was ever shot from a plane in flight. The footage shows what it was like to fly on one of the early Wright craft, with Wilbur at the helm. The clip opens with the launching, then the plane climbs, levels off, and passes over the flight grounds.


B-25 Flight Complete At Last

I was cooler today but the ceiling was high and visibiliity was good.¬† Mostly cloudy, nice that some blue was showing.¬† I was in the second flight of the day so the engines were already warmed up, didn’t take long from strapping into to engine start and down the taxi way.¬†¬† It was a great flight.¬† I tool lots of pictures and video.¬† I hope it all comes out well.¬†¬† Soon as I have it processed, I’ll stick it up here.

I have to go to the shop and finish packing for SEFF which is running at this time.  We plan to be open in the vendor area Wednesday through Saturday.  Not sure how well my tether from laptop to phone will work there.  If it works well, I should be able to get some shots uploaded.

Our flight was the last one of a long week of flights the Barbie III crew put in.  It was a great time.   I heard they were anxious to head for home.   After disembarking, I asked one of the crew if he remembered his first warbird flight?  He said oh yes!  I told him that I just had mine.

Eddy Noble and son Curtis (remember Nikitis Aircraft) were on the same flight.¬† What a surprise to ride with people I knew.¬† They were kind enough to show thier 1946 Cub to my family.¬† It is in excellent condition.¬†¬† Well over 100 youth have gotton a ride in Eddy’s Cub.¬†Meeting Ed’s son, I can tell you he’ll be a successful postive force in the world. What a gentleman.

I’ll try to stick up photo’s and more details about the experience later in the week. I noticed a big uptick in visitors since I put the post up yesterday. Thanks for following!

Happy Flying All!


B-25 Flight Adventure Rescheduled



Went to Grimes Field in Urbana Ohio¬†today for my B-25 ride.¬† It was a gift from my family for Christmas.¬† Scheduled for 12am.¬† It’s been beautiful around here all week until this morning.¬† Drisely all the way there.¬† Lots of people waiting.¬†¬† Turns out flights were scheduled to start at 9am.¬† However the ceiling was too low for VFR (Visual Flying Rating)flying.¬† It looks like the¬†B-25’s are limited to VFR conditions only.¬† Although, I am not certain, it is likely due to not¬†carrying the¬†equipment certified for modern day IFR (Instiment Flight Rating) flying.¬†¬† The crew was waiting for minimum of 1500 foot ceiling before flying.¬† Thus the delay.¬†¬† We were early so we had a great breakfast at the Airport Cafe.¬† The flight crew reported the flight would be delayed at least 2 hours.¬†

So, we visited the Museum and the B-17 Champaign Lady under contstruction/restoration there.  Got a wonderful up close Cleko tour from one of the volunteers.  Sat with the family Band talked a while.

Back to the lobby to check the weather/ceiling, still a no go.  We had some pie for which this cafe is well known.  I choose peanut butter.

Close up, the Barbie III looks to be in excellent condition.¬† For me, it’s not about an aircraft ride, it’s a little about riding in a warbird, but it’s mostly about¬†feeling those two Wright R-2600-13 turbo-supercharged radials of 1,700 hp each pounding away from the inside of the aircraft.¬†¬†¬†I can almost feel my spine tingling just thinking about it.

After lots of conversation and discussing if we’d have all 3 meals in the cafe today, I checked again at about 4:10 and they had scrubbed all the flights until Sunday.¬† The ceiling never got above 1100 feet that I saw and at the time it was down to 700 ft..¬†¬†I’m rescheduled for 10am on Sunday.¬† It’s going to be colder, low tonight about 36 I heard.

Will report back tomarrow.