Tag Archives: R/C

Rarity… Five flights!

It’s been a few weeks since I have been out flying.  The evenings are way to short for me to get out during the week, even if I could get off early, so I’m limited to the weekends now.

Yesterday was the best looking day weather wise we’d had in a while and I was around on the weekend so I took advantage of it and went out flying with the guys.  I got out to the field for 1PM, probably my earliest ever.

When I arrived Peter was still mowing the field and afterwords I helped put the windsock back up.  Apparently some people were whining about the windsock on the field and that they would crash into the pole/sock.  To me that means they do not have control of the aircraft and should be working on that, not us moving the windsock!  The windsock to me worked as an excellent marker when flying at that end of the field so you didn’t get to close to the treeline and also for where you have to make your turn in when coming for a landing from the South.

Got all set up and got in a solid flight… felt great to get up in the air again.  On my second time up had to cut it a little short as the rain started to fall, and getting the electronics wet (especially the transmitter) is not a good idea, so I landed the plane and put the transmitter back in the case.  It wasn’t long before it started to pour and the four of us that were out at the field huddled under the canopy with the picnic table to wait out the weather.  We figured it’d pass, so we didn’t pack up, and it did after about 15 minutes.

After that I got in another 3 flights to make up my five flights.  Was an awesome day of flying!  The winds were pretty strong, blowing from the West and oscillating between a true crosswind or coming a bit from the North or South.  It tended to be bumpy up in the air.  I made a few take offs and landings going each direction.

My landings going South to North need work.  Twice when coming in I was off center a bit and perhaps a little to far down the runway when I touched down as I tend to head right for the tall grass.  The first time I managed to get the plane to come to a stop and steer it enough away such that I didn’t run into the tall grass.  The second time I must have come in hotter (and perhaps didn’t risk turning the plane sharp enough) as I was unable to stop in time running well into the tall grass.  This can be risky as your prop can get tangled in the long grass and the burs as well as harder stalks (especially this time of year) can puncture the covering on the wings.

I burned through quite a bit of fuel Saturday, or so I thought, until when cleaning up I realized their was a leak in my tank around the opening, where the lines come up was loose causing fuel to run out of the tank and collect in the bottom of the plane.  I had to remove the tank and use paper towel to dry it out as much as possible.  Then today I brought it over to Peters so he can dry it out better under a heat lamp and kindly repair the tank for me.

Sadly summer is quickly coming to an end and flying season will be over.  Next Saturday, weather permitting, is going to be the club wind up and likely the last time out for the season.  Then they will be moving to indoor flying, which I don’t have a plane for, and building.  I’m excited for the building as in about a months time I am going to start building my first plane!  Peter has graciously offered to teach me the building aspect and volunteered his workshop for my first build!  I’m excited to learn, plan to blog about my progress/experience, and ‘graduate’ up to my next plane, which is the Sig Four-Star 60.

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!

Fun Fly + My Flying

Last weekend was the fun fly here in Kenora.  It was originally going to be in Rainy River (in which I wouldn’t have been able to attend) but due to all the rain their field became flooded so the Kenora club hustled to pull of the event here.  On the Friday I was able to get up for a few flights and although I brought my plane out Saturday to get in some flying at the event it was way to windy for me so my plane remained on the ground.  As much as I wanted to fly it was still a fantastic day chatting with all the guys and watching planes fly we don’t typically see around here of all sizes.  The bigger acrobatic ones were a lot of fun to watch and lit a spark in me as I aspire to be able to build and fly one of them some day!

Unfortunately it has taken me so long to blog about it I can’t recall my learning points, if their were any… and I’m sure their were, from last Friday night.  I did get out flying Monday as well where I got in another few flights.  Overall it was another fantastic evening of flying; however, I did discover some specific items I need to remember / work on:

  • When landing remember to flare the plane right before touch down to ensure I land on my main landing gear (the rear two wheels) by applying a tiny bit of ‘up’ rudder before touching down and then letting the front tire come down.  With the way I’ve been doing it, coming in level, my front wheel takes the brunt of the force and could break or cause the plane to nose into the ground if it catches in the grass.
  • When banking for my turns I need to make sure my bank angle isn’t to steep for the speed I am at otherwise I am going to stall and plummet to the ground! This especially includes when coming in for a landing with a lower cruising speed; however, I need to make sure I do not cut the throttle and keep as much applied as I can before I get my plane around and lined up for landing.

Pilots get into trouble when manoeuvring for a landing with power at idle when they make steep turns to align themselves with the runway.  I definitely made to steep of a turn the one evening when my engine quit as I was to quick, panicked a bit perhaps, and instead of slowly manoeuvring in for the landing I banked hard and pulled around to get in line with the runway which could have easily lead to disaster instead of a save, especially if I wasn’t still on the trainer… and that’s why you start here and build up.

These links explain the issue of slow speed and bank angle as related to stall problems:
http://www.boldmethod.com/learn-to-fly/aerodynamics/why-does-stall-speed-increase-with-bank-angle/
http://www.experimentalaircraft.info/flight-planning/aircraft-stall-speed-1.php
http://turbineair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bank-Angle-vs-stall-speed-2013.pdf
http://krepelka.com/fsweb/lessons/private/privatelessons02.htm

Crosswind Flying Excitement

Friday evening I got out for an excellent evening of flying getting in four flights, three of which were solid and one of which tested my ability to remain cool and collected, lol.

The planned new experience and knowledge gain from this evening of flying was taking off and landing when their is a crosswind.  In a previous post I mentioned how the runway generally runs North/South and Friday evening the wind was blowing West/East.  During my takeoff, heading South, in order to prevent the plane from tipping over or blowing off course you need to apply some rudder and ailerons (both R in this case) to prevent the plane from veering left and from tipping over due to the crosswind.  During landings you need to ensure you are over far enough on the runway such that while descending the plane doesn’t get blown from above the landing strip, but instead is blown into position.  While descending I used the rudder (applying R rudder again as I was landing pointing South) for course correction to keep the plane pointing down the runway and from getting to far over.  While performing these tasks you still need to do what you would normally during takeoff and landing (i.e. applying up elevator to get off the ground during take off and in order to land on the rear wheels, main gear, while landing).

All in all it was an excellent night of flying in which only a few noticeable events occurred:

  1. During flight my engine cut out due to the temperature change and I was able to remain calm and coast my plane in for a dead stick landing.  Then adjustments were made on the engine to help ensure the appropriate amount of fuel is being provided.
  2. While taxing back to the gate I applied to much throttle and the plane didn’t stop in time so I nosed into the fence, which cut the engine and thankfully did not damage, as I miss calculated how much time it’d take for the plane to slow while taxing.
  3. On a pre-flight check I noticed that when my throttle was at half on the transmitter the plane was actually at full throttle.  Going beyond that was just stressing both the servo and plastic ‘hinge’ for the throttle arm, which is not ideal.  This meant that I was finely controlling the throttle as from 0 to half equated to 0 to full and everything above half was essentially doing nothing but stressing the components.  This was like this from the time it was assembled, not sure why nobody noticed this until I did that evening, but do to the gracious help of Peter and John it has been fixed.  Hoping to get out this evening to see how this changes the feel of the plane!
  4. On my last flight of the day I didn’t compensate enough for the crosswind on landing and though I tried to make corrections at the last minute with my rudder to get back on the runway.  I ended up in the tall grass just off the runway and used the kill switch to kill my engine as quickly as I could to prevent damage (which I thankfully appeared to be successful at!).  This was a different experience as on top of the crosswind the sun was setting, already quite low, changing the visual of the approach and I went by the plane instead of my ground markers causing me to misjudge where the plane was at.

The weather hasn’t cooperated since Friday; however, I am hoping to get out tonight.  Will have to wait and see.

Some solid solo flying

It was fantastic to get out flying Monday evening after being on holidays in NL for two weeks and the weather not cooperating.  The weather was great last night.  I got in five flights total along with a bit of a different experience due to the change in wind conditions from what it has been while I’ve been at the field.

The landing strip runs, approximately, North to South.  Every other time I’ve been their it’s been a mostly South wind so I’ve been taking off and landing North to South.  This time out their was mostly a North wind (almost more West to East at times or completely died off).  Due to this I got to take off going the other direction on the landing strip, which is somewhat uphill and you need to be careful at the end of the landing strip as it drops off which can suck your plane down if you’re not careful.  One guy last evening dipped down into the ‘whole’ but was able to recover, thankfully!

The flying itself was quite similar to other nights with the major difference being in takeoffs and landings.  For the first two flights I was on the buddy box and then flew solo for the last three with Peter standing by my side to give brief words of advice, encouragement, or an update on field conditions (i.e. wind, other aircraft’s, etc.).  When landing coming in from the South you need to approach from the East (like when landing North to South) except bank right, level out, and then bank right again as you cut the throttle to come down the runway.  This is to prevent you from swinging out over the crowd (if people are there) and to stay ahead of the ‘flying line’ of where you are supposed to be flying.   From this direction you need to be careful of the trees while making sure you are out far enough to make your approach as how close you are to the trees can be deceptive.

It was a very exciting night of flying with only a few ‘scary’ moments.   The first wasn’t to bad as it was in taxing.  I didn’t apply any elevator so the nose wheel dug in and the plane tipped over.  The second incident was pretty much the exact same but tipped sideways on a turn as I didn’t have enough elevator applied (need to remember to always apply full elevator when taxing).  The third was the real heart pounding moment.  On take off my plane wasn’t pointing straight down the runway.  I didn’t look closely enough after Peter put down the plane, so instead of taxing into position I went for the takeoff.  Little did I know I was heading right for the fencing where we stand behind (nobody was there at the time, as was standing behind and off to the side of the plane for takeoff) so as it came off the ground I was on a collision course with the fencing.  Through some quick reflexes, and somewhat wobbly plane movements, I managed to bank away from the fence and level off to get some airspeed before rising up into the air.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, if you are not learning something when you are out you’re doing something wrong! 🙂

Sometimes after a day of work I feel so tired and wonder if I should go out to the airfield but every time so far, once I get their, I have an awesome time visiting with the guys and flying!  Unfortunately I didn’t get out tonight due to not sleeping much last night, wasn’t feeling well along with being really tired, so rather than push it I relaxed tonight with hopes of getting out again soon!

First Solo Flight

Due to the weather not cooperating it was nice to finally find an opening to squeak in some flying.  Though their was bad weather all around us Petter and I decided to take a chance and headed to the airfield on May 26th for 6:30PM.  The evening could have went either way for us but turned out awesome!

I got up for 2 or 3 solid flights on the buddy box, taking off and landing by myself.  On the last flight of the day I did my first solo flight!  This is the first time I actually held my Spectrum DX6 transmitter in my hands while flying.  Using this transmitter over the old one I was using (as Peter held the primary) gave a different feel while flying due to the joysticks being stiffer and the ergonomics of the transmitter itself.   I was on an ‘aeromodellers’ high and my heart felt like it was going to beat out through my chest!  Following tradition my maiden solo voyage was a short one.  I took off, flew down to the end of the run way and maneuvered right into the box pattern, turning left and flying out away from us parallel to the runway.  I then throttled back, getting ready for my approach, banked left once I got to the far left of the field, leveled out and then shortly there after banked left again pointing me at the runway, cut the throttle and coasted in for a successful landing!

We then called it a night as my first solo mission was a success and we were going home with the plane in tack!  We then packed up, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the sun went behind the clouds (didn’t want to be flying in shadows just yet!), the skeeters instantly became wicked and the rain started to fall.  Didn’t matter to me as I was on cloud nine!  I think Peter was too as he gets a great thrill out of seeing his students progress and ended with saying, “Now you’re on your own as there’s nothing more I can do for you while you’re flying”.   Though I know he’ll still help when he can, and plan to be on the buddy box again when I’m out their and the wind has changed and need to land from the other direction.  We then followed it up with going out for a treat.

I’ve been really looking forward to getting out again; however, the weather still hasn’t been cooperating as it’s been raining to much making the field to wet or their have been threatening dark clouds in the sky, which typically end up contributing to the sogginess of the airfield!  If it hasn’t been precipitation it’s been strong unpredictable winds.  Based on the forecast Thursday is looking to be my best chance of getting out before I go on holidays.  In the mean time I’m blogging to take the edge off. 😉

Takeoffs, Flying & Landings. Oh Yeah!

On Wednesday, May 18th I got in my first flights of the season! I went out the night before; however, my transmitter with its new battery pack (that’s actually made for the Spektrum radio I have) when I got there was not charged!  I thought I had charged it, plugged it into the wall overnight, but my outlets are weird, so I’m guessing the outlet was turned off.  Lesson learned though, always check the radio the night before going flying!  I then tried again the next night and boy did it pay off!  I got in three solid flights.

The first flight started with Peter taking off the plane and then allowing me to fly around however I saw fit.  I did a few figure eights and transitioned into boxes to practice lining up for landings.  I then descended lower and lower on the approach whizzing down the middle of the runway.  I eventually took more and more off the throttle until I was pretty much landing, but since wasn’t time yet I’d apply full throttle to ascend up for another come around until no mention of doing another come around came up from Peter and I landed!

The second flight started with me taxing the plane out into the runway, followed by me standing behind the plane lining it up for take off (based on the windsock).  I then took off the aircraft and awkwardly (as that’s me, Mr. Awkward! Well, sometimes, lol) backed up as Peter guided me with a nudge here and their back behind little fence for pilots in the air as I didn’t want to take my eyes off the plane.  I then flew around until it came time to land again and then practised lining up my approach and eventually landed my Sig Kadet LT-40 back on solid ground.

The third flight got even more exhilarating.  Their were times I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest!  This time I taxied the plane out to the runway, stayed behind the fence, and took off the aircraft from behind the fence.  This provides a whole other perspective of the plane while taking off (side-view essentially).  I then flew around for a bit and transitioned into touch and goes.  I would come in as a landing, slowed right down, touch the plane down on the ground and coast along the ground a tiny bit as I’d then give full throttle to take off yet again to come around for yet another landing.  I did this a handful of times before finally touching down for the night.

All in all I had an excellent night of flying and learned more while I was at it.  You basically gotta learn something new each time out, whether its little or big, as that is part of the fun and what allows you to progress!  Some key things for this night out are:

  • Don’t bank to steeply in turns, especially when it is windy as it was this night, or you risk the wind catching your plane and flipping you over, due to the amount of surface area being exposed
  • At our airfield don’t go to far off the end of the runway for your approach or else you risk the wind (up draft?) coming up the hill and rocking your plane.  Thank-you Peter for the save (rather than then seeing if I would have been able to).
  • Kinda learned this one before, but if you are not comfortable with your approach for landing, give ‘er power and come around again (this is why you want to land before you run out of fuel) because if something already started to go wrong it’s likely only going to get worse if you try to correct/force the landing.

Sig Kadet LT40 Maiden Voyage

Me with my virgin LT40

Since my last post there have been a few developments.  Going to start with my first flight followed by a continuation of the customizations done by Peter and John to my plane and why as more came out of that first flight due to things we discovered.

First Flight

It was great and a little nerve racking to finally get out to the airfield and see if my plane would fly.  The first time time out to attempt a maiden voyage the weather didn’t cooperate as it was too windy, but that was OK as we started with the basics of ground work and I taxied around the runway.  Peter was impressed by how well I was able to keep the plane straight as I rolled down the runway.  I technically, if you’ll humour me, had my first take off and landing as I increased the speed so much that the plane actually took off the ground about 4 feet, followed by me cutting the throttle and successfully landing the aircraft back on the wheels.  At which point I continued to taxi around, but that initial feeling was awesome!  I guess I can say that I took it for its first flight 😉

Taxing LT 40 Video

It’s maiden voyage for a flight longer than a handful of seconds occurred the next time out and was done by Peter who did it beautifully.  He was impressed, as were those watching, at how effortlessly the LT40 left the ground and took to the air.  Once he was up we could tell the engine wasn’t running all that smooth and the plane was pulling to the right so John adjusted the trim while Peter flew.  They also tweaked the engine to get it performing better.  We then attempted the buddy box so that I could get in some flying time; however, we kept loosing connection and it was being very temperamental as the evening progressed.  I did manage to fly it for a couple circuits.

Due to the temperament of the buddy box Peter and I played with it at his place and tested Peter’s Eurika moment of batteries, which turned out to be the case!  Once the main transmitters batteries were drained down past a certain level (seemed to be about 5.5V) the buddy box ceased to function.

Customizations

During our initial testing of the aircraft we noticed while taxing around that we were chopping lots of grass which lead to additional customizations on the plane, namely adding a wedge between the main landing gear and the plane to raise it up higher off the ground and unravelling one of the coils on the nose wheel to lengthen it as well so the aircraft remained level.  Additionally we did some testing of the buddy box and discovered the reasoning for loosing connection was that once the main transmitters battery dropped below 5.6V the buddy box would no longer function as the transmitter could not maintain the connection.  The transmitter is a battery hog and I should have a LiPo battery pack on the way once an order with Hobby King is placed that John is going to kindly wire up for me so I can charge it and it’ll fit nicely in my transmitter (he has the same transmitter and battery combo).

Conclusion

I am well on my way to becoming an R/C pilot and am itching to get some more flying hours under my belt.  I, along with Peter and John, don’t think it will be long before I am taking off and landing if I can just get in the time.  Tried getting out early last week but it was to windy to fly and Wednesday night I got out again where I performed my first landing, which went really well.  After a break I performed my first takeoff.  To do this we stood out in the middle of the runway behind the plane so I could see how the plane reacts as it is going down the runway.  I applied a little up elevator and let it fly level to pick up airspeed once it was off the ground before rising up to a reasonable height.  After flying around I came in for a landing, which wasn’t so pretty,  as the sun was setting and I went against my better judgement and continued to float the plane in nice and slow, ending up in the tall grass off the far side of the landing strip.  Thankfully no damage was done, and according to John and landing the plane remains in one piece is a good landing!

I am excited to get out again; however, I’ve missed the last couple of opportunities due to being sick but hopefully will get out a time or two, even with going away on holidays shortly, before the season is out.

Here are some pics of my Sig Kadet LT 40 at the field so you can see some of the ins and outs as well as me posing with it holding my transmitter (Spectrum DX6) before its first trip to the runway.

Flying, Equipment setup & First Plane!

I have been out to the airfield a couple times since my last post.  Nowhere near as much as I would have liked to but you can’t control the weather!

I am gaining more experience and have gotten well beyond the circle pattern I have been flying in both directions.  I moved on to figure eights and have been doing them in both directions.  It’s now where I start when I first get control of the aircraft for the day!  I have been doing boxes the last few times out, which consists of flying in a box formation where you go down the center of the runway do a quick turn, fly out, do another quick turn, fly to the other end of the field, another quick turn, and then you do another quick turn as if you are coming in for a landing and you want to be lined up with the center of the runway and fly right down the middle.  Essentially this is practicing for landing the aircraft.  As I get better with the key turn (coming into the runway) the box will get lower and lower until I am finally landing the plane.

Quick Turn

What I mean by a quick turn is that you bank the aircraft to the inside of your turn, as you pull up on the stick a little giving some up elevator to keep the nose level/up, and then immediately straighten the aircraft so it is level.

This is required so that you are lined up properly with the runway and are level.  If for any reason something doesn’t feel right you abort the landing.  This is why you should always land with fuel in the tank and avoid those dead stick landings!  When you dead stick you just pray you get it right on the first try and go with it as there is no second attempt.

Equipment

I have finally bit the bullet and purchased the gear I require, which consists of the following:

  • Sig Kadet LT 40 ARF
  • 2 O.S. Glow Plugs
  • Glow driver
  • Spektrum DX6 Transmitter w/ AR610 receiver + 1 Free receiver (Gotta love this promotion as then I already have one for my next plane!)
  • Accu-Cycle charger
  • Charger leads
  • Fuel Pump

Thank-you to Peter who had the battery and switch for the plane as well as the servos, better landing gear (both wheels and assembly) along with a stronger push rod for the throttle, more on that in the next post about assembly!

Next Flight

Looks like my next flight is going to be with my very own plane!  More on that to come with the next post.