A Fabulous Three Night Week of Flying!

Last week was a fabulous week of flying!  It made up for not getting out for about a week prior.  Last week was the first time in what seems like a very long time that I got out flying back-to-back nights.  I went out Monday, Tuesday, and Friday!  It was a week packed with excitement at the airfield.  Each night I got in three flights, which was really good considering the days are getting much shorter, flying time wraps up about 730PM now.

My nights consisted of flying basically however I saw fit, basically flying whatever patterns I was feeling.  Their was some pretty windy evenings up in the air which provides quite a workout.  I’m always practicing something though and as I’ve probably mentioned before if your not working on improving something then you’re doing something wrong.  Over these three evenings of flight certain events stick out in my mind.

I needed to readjust where I fly as I was flying in to close so I need to remember to go farther out across from where we stand to ensure that when I’m making my turns to come around I am coming approximately down the runway.   Essentially I need to be flying all my patterns such that the closest I get to myself is approximately the middle of the runway to make it easier to keep my eye on the plane and save me from having to crank my neck.

I believe it was Tuesday I had the malfunction where while flying going South over the runway, getting quite far to the right, my engine cut out.  Their was no way I could turn the plane around to land where I’d have enough runway as I’d of had to turn the plane to sharply and with no power I’d of likely tip stalled and essentially ‘fall from the sky’.  I did the next best thing which was bring her down in the direction she was going.  I ran out of runway prior to touching down so the plane went right into the tall grass at the end.  Thankfully the plane never had much airspeed and after inspecting the plane (especially the underside of the wing) no damage had occurred.

The heart stopping moment of the week happened Friday on my last flight of the night.  I was flying patterns as usual, figure eights, boxes, some randomness and fly-bys at various heights.  My mistake came on my landing attempt going South to North, or so I was suppose to be.  When coming in didn’t line up correctly causing me to go more across the runway and though the engine was fully cut I was running out of room to land as the plane wasn’t descending fast enough.  I realized that staying the course would ‘land’ me in the tall grass so I thumbed the throttle to full and applied full up elevator simultaneously causing the plane to rise and pull up over the tall grass, barely, lol.  Looping back around I was then able to successfully come in for a landing.

I have been loving my Saito .62 engine (pairs perfectly with my Kadet LT 40) and thankfully, as Dwayne mentioned, the engine decided it wanted to perform as that was a moment where if it decided “No I don’t want to” I would have been hooped.

Out of this I learned that when low to the ground you want to steer the plane using the rudder as using the ailerons, especially if your speed is low, could lead to a tip stall or just flat out hitting your wing on the ground.  In the aforementioned saved landing what I should have done on approach is applied rudder in the direction I needed to steer the plane in order to get it back on course and pointing down the middle of the runway.

I dragged my hiney in getting this post written up, but now I have caught up in chronicling the adventures of an R/C Airplane hobbyist.

Flaring that landing

It was great to get out flying Sunday night after just under a two week hiatus due to poor flying weather.  It’s either been extremely windy and cloudy with thunderstorms looming in the distance, raining, or extremely hot and calling for thunderstorms at some point in the area with heat and storm warnings.  That said last night’s flying weather was perfect and it was great to get out flying again!

I made the best of it since it was Sunday getting out their before 5PM.  I got in four solid flights with a duration approximating 8 minutes each.  I could have potentially got in more; however, my mentor thought it best to call it a night as doing to many flights in an evening can lead to becoming complacent and making mistakes especially since I’m still learning.

My takeoffs were nice and smooth.  While in the air I basically flew whatever pattern or direction I felt as I was always the only plane up in the air.  Their were a couple other guys at the field but they mostly flew helis, one took up a plane here and their.  Having planes and helis in the air at the same time is not a good thing due to the different flying dynamics and catching a blade to the plane would shred it to pieces!  In general terms the patterns I flew in various directions were boxes, figure eights, fly by’s (fairly low) down the middle of the runway,  and just random course changes.

What I really wanted to work on this time around was my landing flare, which is the phase when the aircraft is still airborne and goes down to land with the purpose of touching down on the main landing gear first.  Since my aircraft has a tricycle set up my main landing gear is the two wheels further back on the fuselage and not the single nose wheel.  On my third landing of the night I still came in a little to hot so even though I flared the aircraft when it touched down the plane ‘bounced’ causing it to become temporarily airborne again before touching down a second time getting all three wheels safely back on the ground to coast to a stop.  I need to make sure that when coming in for a landing their is absolutely no throttle applied and that I gave enough glide time to take away airspeed so that the aircraft settles nicely to the ground.  Note that with my current aircraft I am able to do this; however, on my next plane (Sig 4 Star 60) that’ll be a tail dragger you do need to come in with some throttle applied.

On my last flight of the night when manoeuvring to land I decreased my altitude sufficiently while going out far enough beyond the runway, then banked to come across the top of the runway, levelled out flying perpendicular to the runway, waited until I was beyond the middle width of the runway before turning back down the runway.  Once lined up with the runway coming in at this point I cut the throttle and make minor adjustments with the controls to keep my plane as close to the middle of the runway as possible letting it glide down on its own.  Once I’m inches from the ground I pull back on the elevator to flare the aircraft causing the main gear to touchdown first followed by the nose wheel.

I was on a high after those flights.  It was a lot of fun, both flying and visiting with the guys.  Talking with Peter he mentioned I’ll be building my first plane at his place so I’m hoping this remains the case.  It is nice as I was concerned about space to build in my spare room and can cross that bridge when I get their. Peter also mentioned my third plane will be a gas powered amphibian, more specifically a seamaster, so that I’ll be able to eventually get into the float flys too.  That’s a ways away yet though, so time to back up and keep learning and improving with my Kadet LT 40.

The weather didn’t cooperate last night and forecasted somewhat promising today so we’ll see.

Gusty, ever changing winds

It’s been over a week since I’ve been able to get out flying, as the last time I was out was a week ago today.  This is due to the weather and that I still require assistance for some things while at the field and those that can assist haven’t been able to get out flying since (or the weather hadn’t cooperated).

Last Monday while I was out was yet again another great learning experience with the ever changing winds.  It was only the three of us (Peter, John and myself) and I got in about 3 solid flights.  Since it’s been so long as I slacked on doing up this blog post I’m going to just summarize the highlights that I recall:

  • Got in three flights with very gusty and ever changing winds making flying itself a different feel as you have to pay close attention to how the plane is flying and compensate accordingly
  • While landing on the one flight the wind changed direction on me a couple times, from switching to a tailwind and then becoming a crosswind, and though I was able to keep the plane level after touchdown while coasting to a stop the wind caught the wing and tipped me over, touching the prop stopping the engine
  • On one landing I didn’t cut the throttle completely before touchdown so I was going under power on the runway and so after landing I tried to turn and tipped the aircraft touching the wing and prop to the ground causing the engine to shut of

Overall it was a very fun and challenging night of flying as I got to experience new conditions and all in all the guys were impressed with my flying, as was I, as I took off in crosswinds, flew in ever changing winds with various gusts, and landing exceptionally well considering the conditions.  I was able to put the plane down on the runway, compensating for winds accordingly, unlike a previous time when I landed off the far side of the runway due to a crosswind blowing me over to far as I didn’t compensate.

I’m really looking forward to getting out again!