Time got away from me and I never blogged during the summer about my flying. It was a very busy summer. I got out flying ass much as I could and loved it as usual! Missed some flying time during the summer as my girlfriend (at the time) and I went to Ottawa for a visit to take in the sites and got engaged (technically while in Gatineau)! P.S. what a beautiful city!
Basically my time went from learning the basics of taking off and landing with a taildragger, going through the same basic circuits as I did when learning to fly with my 4 Star 60, to advancing to doing loops and rolls in various combinations.
One thing to remember, which I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind for the upcoming season is to use my rudder a lot more. This includes for aligning the aircraft on takeoffs and landings as well as when making turns using the rudder to prevent the tail from ‘sagging’.
I had some mishaps, most just coming in a little to hot and hitting the tall grass along the edge of the runway. Need to ensure I am flaring my landings to aid in slowing the aircraft down. My worst mishap was when I ran out of fuel in the air and couldn’t make the runway, thus crashing into the tall grass/weeds down the hill on the North side of the runway. The worst part of the damage was breaking the leading edge of one wing which needed to be repaired and recovered before flying again.
I am looking forward to getting out flying again once this nasty cold weather is behind us. I will start with my Sig Kadet LT40 to get back into the groove of things before bringing out my 4 Star 60 again. In the meantime I have finally been able to start another build, a float plane this time, so more to come on that. Been a crazy winter with getting married in December and getting settled into my (uh-um, our) new normal as I am very much a creature of habit, lol.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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. 😉
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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).
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.