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Thursday, May 21, 2015

High Wind Testing__How To Survive The Elements

This had been another one of those odd articles that started one place and ended up somewhere else. It started off as a puff piece that I could use to launch some video of stupid flying in stupid conditions, and then it occurred to me how many people truly struggle with flying in a little wind. I've seen people terrified to go up in 5mph winds, and if you live in the tropics that will put you out of the game for about 95%of the time.

If you are terrified of wrecking your plane, or can't afford to wreck, 3D is probably not a good choice for you anyway. If you truly want to be an extreme aerobatic pilot, you have to learn to fly in those extreme conditions that has the regular old Sunday flier packing up his gear. If you want to be the best you can be and get the most out of the plane and yourself, you have to push yourself, and this includes flying when it's not very comfortable.

Having said that, there is no sense in being stupid about it. There are times when you say "Oh, hell no," and that's when you don't fly. If you are sitting around thinking "well, maybe...." that's the time to go. If the conditions are just a little too much for you, I'm betting you can still do it.

As long as the wind is steady it's not a big problem. It's when you have gusty conditions that the plane can get slapped around. If the gusts are too big, then it gets dangerous and maybe even a bit stupid. The way I can tell it is time to quit is when it's no longer fun. If the gusts are 10mph more than the wind, it's time pack up. Being a little uncomfortable  is to be expected, but when you are fighting for your life the whole time, that's no fun and you are probably going to have a nasty accident.

Deal with It
Like everything else we don' want to do, if you want to fly sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with it.  I live in Pinellas County, which is a Peninsula on the west Coat of Florida. On one side we have Tampa Bay, and the other the Gulf Of Mexico. Between the inland heat waves and the afternoon Gulf sea breeze, conditions are tricky most of the time. It's only very rarely we get calm conditions, and most of the time we are flying in at least 10 mph wind. It's something you get used to because otherwise you would spend all day watching the wind sock instead of flying. If you fly in Pinellas county, you just deal with it.

Because this is what we have, there are times we fly when it's not a good idea, like, say, yesterday. You have to change your flying style a little and leave yourself a bit more margin, but it can be done.
You have to be very conscious of wind direction and not let yourself get too slow going downwind. It also helps to carry a bit more power and obviously you have to be much quicker reacting with throttle. You can actually use the wind to your advantage because it's like free lift that you don't have to pay for with speed. You can see this in some of the elevator drops I do and the plane is actually travelling backwards!

 It's things like this we call "wind games." You are basically taking a crappy day and turning into fun. Like this you don't spend much time doing tail touches or torque rolling down low because that would be asking for it. In wind games you do a lot of elevator drops and super high nose downwind harrier flying. You can check the videos and see what kind of crazy things we try.

We probably fly a lot of times when it's not real smart, mostly because we want to fly. Most often we fly in bad  conditions because there is a video camera there. I'm fortunate that almost all the guys I hang with are good video men,  and we rarely miss a shot. If we do miss a shot it's no big deal because you just do it again. I tell them the only unforgivable sin is to miss a crash because you cant do those over!

We shot this yesterday in 15-20 mph winds with 25mph gusts. This is getting way up there and it was probably not to smart to keep flying. Fortunately I had my two beater planes with me and I will fly either of those in anything but tornado warnings or a full tilt thunder storm. You can hear the wind ripping even over all but the loudest part of the music.

Get A Beater
I don't recommend that you fly in these kind of winds, but if you go up in wind that normally stops you from flying it will make you sharper. This is when a good flying beater becomes indispensable. . People keep trying to buy my beater Yak, but because it's a bit scruffy it would not kill me to wreck it (at least not as much s breaking a new plane would), and that makes it invaluable. This plane is two years old and been through three rudders, two canopies, a cowling, two tailwheel wires and a tailwheel, and a few sets of SFGs. I've knocked the stab out of it three times and it doesn't sit in there quite right, but she still flies beautifully. I fly it hard with little regard and much disdain. When I do kill this plane I will feel guilty I treated it so badly. I don't believe I have treated any airplane so badly and still gotten such sterling service out of it.

Working The Wind
Use a little altitude and try a few crazy things. High wind at altitude is especially useful for working on harrier because it throws so many variables at you that it teaches you to be sharp and it helps speed your reflexes. Your survival and plane saving skills become sharper. If you are going to fly 3D, you have to learn to fight your way out of trouble, and high wind training is really useful. You just have to use enough altitude and remember the elements are against you.

The worst (most dangerous) part of high wind flying is landing. That's when you are closest to the ground and going the slowest. If a gust hits you just right it can slap you straight into the ground, and it's especially bad from between 3 to 5 feet off the deck. The wind hits the runway and becomes turbulent, and this is called "ground effect." You get ground effect even in perfect conditions because air is still coming off the plane, but in high wind this can really upset the plane. Any time we get knocked down by the wind we say be got a "wind bitchslapping,"

Because the air becomes so turbulent low to the ground, I like to carry a little more speed when landing. Speed makes the plane more stable and more resistant to the previously mentioned slapping. In general I go for a wheel landing, but whenever we shoot video we go for the spectacular. 

In the end, if you get accustomed to less than desirable conditions, you will fly that much better when the weather is nice. That, and you will be having fun on days that before would have kept you grounded. Of course, you don't want to fly if it's so bad that it totally wrenches the plane out of control. That can be dangerous to the people around you, so you have to learn what you can handle.

If you wreck your plane, don't blame me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yak and Laser EXP 60__The YouTube Files

We've had a few requests to use YouTube so people can have an easier time watching on their mobile devices. Thusly, the Yak EXP and Laser YouTube files are here. These are all new videos and not reposts.

I think I have pretty much covered everything I know about the Yak in previous blogs, so I don't really have anything new on the plane. It's got all standard off-the-shelf equipment, and all of it works brilliantly. There are never any sort of set up or reliability issues. I just take it out of the car and hammer it hard.

We are probably at 100 flights or so and everything is still nice and tight, including my Hitec 5245MG servos and PN55709 servo arms. The gears are starting to get a little lash in them but that is normal for a metal gear servo. The big improvement over previously sloppy set up was going to the PN55709 arm that stays tight on the servo output shaft. What we were before was soft plastic and the spines inside the arm would spread out, causing slop.

I have done a little damage to the Yak, though. I have ripped off the rudder, but that was easy to replace once it came in stock. Sadly the Yak was out of action for about two months, but we are making up for it now.

 I also broke the landing gear and stripped the aileron servos when my throttle potentiometer in my TX failed during a low level parachute. You could not have possibly picked a worse time to have this kind of problem, but the Yak bounced hard and took it in it's stride. 

The servos suffered the typical HS5245MG's Achilles'  heel problem of the case breaking where it supports the center cluster gear shaft. This was easy enough to fix simply by replacing the top of the servo case, which was a $6 fix. I used to send the servos back for this, but once I fixed one I was no longer afraid to do more. It's really very simple and easy.

About the only thing to watch out for has more to do with the servo arms than anything else. I use Hitec's PN55709 servo arms, and these are so hard that they do not compress any when you tighten down the bolt that holds it onto the servo. Because there is no back pressure, the bolts can become lose, eventually fall out and the arm fall off, probably at the worst possible time. This is made worse by the Phillips head bolts that come on the servo, They round off too easily and you can't really crank the bolt down.

To solve this I bought some 2.6 X 8mm allen head bolts from Mirco Fasteners. They have had an advertisement in Model Aviation for as long as I have been flying RC, which goes back to 1977. I like these because I can crank them down really good with an allen driver and that's the last I worry about them until I do maintenance. That and I've got a really awesome set of Losi drivers that I love to work with.

Outside of just flying the Yak, there's not much to report on, which is actually a really good thing. It just means the plane and it's equipment are working flawlessly and I'm having a blast with it.


While we are at it, I've also been beating the Laser down pretty good too. The Laser is so smooth and graceful that I tend to fly it a little more carefully than I do the Yak.

The Laser too has been really reliable and maintenance free. I replace the servo bolts with the previously mentioned allens and that's been all I have done to it since I built it. I may have wiped it off once or twice and maybe tightened a wrinkle or two, but everything is so well thought out on these planes that you just build it and hammer it.

You do have to stay on top of things somewhat, but it's nothing compared to what we went through with nitro powered slimers and the nightmare of them shaking everything apart. Now days model aviation is more about fun than anything else, which is an evolution I have watched take place for 60

 It used to take months to build a plane and required real skill. They also didn't last too long because radio reliability was, uhhhh, not so much. Today you can build a state of the art, world class extreme aerobatic plane in about seven hours, which is more like entertainment than it is work. As long as the pilot does his job properly, there is no reason one of these planes should not last a decade or more.

Mostly I am simply delighted with how good we have it in every respect.

EDIT: We have been shooting so much video lately that we have run out of articles to post it in. Here's a flight with my 48" Laser.  It's getting a little beat up so I'm not being quite as careful with it!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Extreme Flight MXS__Order restored

My last 48 MXS was going on three years old, and it had been a damm good airplane in every respect. Lately I converted it to run Hitec's new 7.4 volt 5070MH servos (ailerons and rudder) and an HS5087MG (on the elevator). If any plane deserved the money spent it's the MXS. With it's aggressive nature the extra torque, speed and holding power of these servos really elevates the performance. 
The MXS is short coupled, meaning the distance between the wing and the stabilizer is shorter compared to the same measurement on an Extra, Laser or Yak. Short coupling makes a plane razor sharp agile, with better pitch authority. In the case of the MXS, I would say shorter coupling gives the plane explosive performance, especially in snapping, tumbling and other violent high speed maneuvers.
This is why I wanted to run 7.4 volt servos in the MXS. I wanted the extra torque and holding power to come into play at high speeds when entering snaps or tumbles. At speed there is a lot of air and air pressure going over the plane. The 6.0 volt servos were getting a little bit of stalling and blowback at high speed, though I never noticed this until I ran the 7.4 volt servos and felt the difference.
I think if you want to get the most extreme performance you can get out of an MXS, these servos are absolutely the way to go.

Sadly, though, I trashed the MXS a few weeks ago being overly confident. After that things in the RC world seemed a little out of order. I did not have a primary MXS.
I flew the backup a few times, but I was really careful with it, not wanting to crash my only MXS and all. I was thinking more about not crashing it than I was about flying it, which is an excellent recipe for having a nasty accident. Finally none of that seemed any good, so I ordered another MXS kit.
While flying the back up plane I noticed it was less responsive at high speed and did not snap or tumble with the same violence. This plane is equipped with 6 volt HS65MGs with an HS85MH on the elevator. These are still good servos, but flying them back to back with Hitec's new 7.4 volt servos they really showed their age. All my MXS have performed well over the years, and these new servos have pushed it to the next level.

Today I ran three packs through the new MXS and it was totally dialed in from the word go. The only adjustment I made all day was to turn my trim steps (trim sensitivity) down all the way, and after that it took a single click of up elevator trim. It's not even enough to see  .... that's how dead on perfect this plane is. The build went really well so there was every reason to believe the plane would fly right, but this one turned out exceptional.
So now that I have two flying 48" MXS, all seems right with the RC world.
 Order restored.
You can read my other MXS blog reports for set up information and pictures of the linkages, radio gear and power system installation, Nothing has changed since I put the HB servos in my last MXS in September 2014's Screaming Into The New Age With Hitec's HS5087MH