Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Day of Flying Yet

So I'm off on break the Friday before the new year and I scheduled a day of flying with my Dad.  He has a flying buddy with access to a private field and was able to get some time on that Friday for us to fly out at the private field.  This field has a dirt, but smoothed out, runway out in the middle of open farm land.  My Dad brought out his Radian and his buddy took out his T28 for us to try out.  I, of course, brought out my Wild Hawk.

I arrived about 11:00am and we were out at the field by about noon.  John (Dad's buddy) sets up T28 around.  Wow, that was a lot of fun!  This plane is very responsive while still be easy to control.  Now I do have to say that the transmitter (a really nice Spektrum 6 channel) was set for a slow rate.  I flipped the switch to fast rate and about as quickly as I lost control of the plane, I switched the rate right  back to slow!  Way to responsive for my current skills.

This is where things started going south for my Dad.  I handed the controls to my Dad so he could check it out, and pretty soon he was getting to far away.  John advised that he should bring it back before it was too hard to control, and guess what.  Well, he tried to get it back but lost orientation and handed the controls back to John.  Too late!  It dove into the ground and broke the wing off.

Dad then got out his Radian for a flight.  A quick had launch out and the plane was not gaining altitude.  About 50 yards out the right wing tipped up and caught the breeze and with the low altitude, cartwheeled the plane into the groung!  Another broken plane!

Well, I got out the Wild Hawk and after two failed take off attempts, I hand launched it into the air.  I had a great flight with my make shift cell phone video camera on board (unfortunately something went wrong with the camera and the video file was messed up, so no video this time).  I landed it, took the camera off and hand launched it again.  I trimmed it out again since the loss of the camera weight, and asked my Dad if he wanted to fly it.  He said "no" as he did not want to chance wrecking another plane!

After this flight it was time to head home and get some lunch.  After lunch we checked out a local city park that people were known to fly at.  This turned out to be a great place to fly!  It's this huge sunken area surrounded by 10ft berms with parking areas.  We quickly headed home to get out planes.

We returned, me with my Wild Hawk and Dad with his Wild Hawk (Old Hickery) and his second plane (my brothers Wild Hawk that he procured).  We parked right up to one side with the slight breeze coming in toward us.  We had about 15ft of grass to the grassy berm.  I took off and landed on the parking lot and Dad hand launched out off the berm.  What a perfect place to fly!  We flew and flew almost till dark!  I burned off the 2200mah battery and started another.  Dad did crash and damage my brothers plane (he flew it behind us and lost it in the sun!), but continued to fly with Old Hickory.  We had soo much fun and had such a great time flying.  I think I had easily, a solid 30 minutes of air time!  We would just take the planes up and then cut the power and see how long we could glide around.  We had a great time bringing them in for low passes and trying to land at our feet (I have to admit that Dad took the prize here).  We are definitely coming back here again!

Sorry there are no pictures, the video didn't come out and I was so distracted by the great flying that I didn't take any pictures.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flying With Landing Gear

This was an experiment that I could hardly wait to perform and I finally got the chance.  My oldest daughter is finally home from college for Christmas break so I recruited her to film while I flew.  It was a beautiful clear day but the wind was starting to pick up.  I was  rushing to get things done so that I could get out before it got too windy.  I know that I could have waited for the evening calm, but I did not want to risk that the wind would settle and that something else would not interrupt my day.  So out we went and braved the elements anyway.  When we first arrived it seemed that we would luck out with the wind lining up with the walk way.  Well as usual the wind did not flay nice and it had fun crossing at an uncomfortable angle.

Not to be outdone, we flew anyway.  The wind did not make things easy.  After a few attempted take offs (see one of the last videos below) I finally made it into the air.  It was much harder than I expected to taxi in a straight line.  Especially with the wind buffeting the plane from the side, especially when it was just about to get off the ground.

Once in the air, it flew just fine.  The the addition of the landing gear had no noticeable affect in the Wild Hawk's flight.  As the wind was causing the plane to bounce around quite a bit, it might have been masking any affects of the landing gear, but I don't think so.

This first video shows the first successful take off.    I thought sure that I was going to crash into the cable again, but I just pulled back on the stick and luckily had enough airspeed to take off successfully.

This second view shows the first successful landing.  I came in dead stick because it was coming in fast enough and with power would have been too fast.  I know too that this was because I was landing with the wind, but it worked out OK.  I did think for a moment that I was going to land it on the walk way cable, but I made it to the pavement.

This video shows both the take off and landing from the airplanes point of view.  If you would like to see what I did to get this footage see my other blog RD Flying Fun.  I'll be updating it soon with how I modified a cell phone to take this footage.

Like the last time I flew, I had so much fun after the first flight that I just made sure all was still OK and then just took off again.  This was a shorter flight as I didn't want to battle the wind for too long and it was too cold for my daughter and I to stay much longer.

My daughter filmed this flight as well.  The first video is the entire flight from take off to landing since it was such a short flight.  You can see that it took me quite a bit to get it under control, but I made it into the air.

Landing was another issue again.  You can see that it came in on an angle and kind of "crabbed" in.

This video is the second flight from the planes perspective.  You might have noticed by now that the perspective is different than from the ground video.  What I did to get forward facing video had the affect of switching the video left for right.  When the plane is going left in all of these videos from the plane, it's really going right!

OK, this is the, well, blooper video of my failed take offs from the ground our perspective and from the plane's perspective.

Yeah, I could have cut some time out of this video, but I thought it was interesting seeing all of this stuff from the planes point of view.

Ouch, that last one looked like it really hurt but actually nothing bad happened.  I just checked it over and made sure the wing was still in firm (as firm as they can be with this much "experience") and checked the aileron servo connections.

If you liked this my latest blog post, please leave a comment and let me know.  Even if you didn't like it, leave me a comment as to what you didn't like.  Either way, be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gearing Up for a Landing

I’ve  made a decision about my Wild Hawk.  A decision that is the opposite of the one that I made when I first received the plane.  A decision that goes against all the recommendations that I received when I first queried experienced Wild Hawk owners regarding the plane.  So, just what is this decision that I made?  I’m adding the landing gear back to my plane!

Why am I doing this?  And, why did I remove them in the first place?  Well, first why did I take them off and leave them off.  I took them off for two reasons.  The first reason is that having landing gear of such a light plane can cause landing problems for inexperienced fliers such as I was.  The second reason was that all the areas that I expected to fly at had no landing strips.  My Dad’s location is a rough plowed field, usually with tall weeds.  My only other current location is a local park and preserve area.  The preserve area does have a 10ft wide walk way that cuts through it, but it is lined on either side with 8 x 8 posts threaded with 1/2in cable.  Not very inviting!

Now I’m adding my landing gear back because, I’ve now successfully landed on the walk way twice, and I have plans to join a local club that has a really nice runway.  I figure this will also prepare me for bigger and better airplanes that will have landing gear.  Besides they just snap in and out (see my pictures and videos below).

Wild Hawk landing gear
Cutting tape out of the gear mounting slot

Gear installed

Landing Gear in.

Landing gear out.

So what is adding the landing gear back onto the plane going to do to how it will fly? OK, I know that the landing gear is just wire with foam rubber wheels and they weigh next to nothing, and so the weight should not affect the plane very much and they are close enough to the CG that I don't expect them to affect the CG. But, the big thing in my mind is that they are not exactly aerodynamic. Again, they are not that big, but on such a light plane they could have a drag affect. This affect could be to make the nose drop as the pull would be on the bottom and to the rear using the CG as a fulcrum. Will this be enough to affect the flight and require trimming? Will I need to redistribute the weight? Will flying speed make a difference?

Since I do not have a wind tunnel, I'll have to rely on flying the Wild Hawk to see what will actually happen. Now I am waiting for a good day to fly. Once I have flown the plane (successfully or not) I will post an update on what affect this had, if any!

Ooops! Blooper!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Fly Time With Video

Wow!  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to fly my plane!  I know it’s fun, but I forget how much fun.  I’ve been waiting for almost two weeks now to fly and it’s been a tough wait.  I have these plans to strap my cell phone to my Wild Hawk and video.  I thought I was all set to fly and video my last timeout, but there were technical difficulties.  The first thing to happen was that the cell phone I was going to use (because I’m too cheep to buy one of those mini video cameras) had issues with the touch screen working properly.  After some searching with Google, I was able to partially resolve that issue and deal with the limitations.  The second issue, well OK, the second and third issues were kinda simultaneous.  On the first two flights with the cell phone camera videoing, I found out that I was only getting 43 seconds of video, and also the tape that holds the cell phone to the plane was causing damage to the trailing edge of the wing (because I was having issues with achieving a decent landing).
The 43 second video issue was resolved (with the help of my good old pall Google again) bu un-checking the messaging video setting on the cell phone.  The setting that limits a video to the size that can be included in a text message (43 seconds for this phone).  The trailing edge wing damage issue was resolved by adding support in the form of a tongue depressor.

This was all resolved within days of my last flight.  But it would be much longer before I would have an opportunity to fly again.

To make things worse, my Dad sends me an email describing his latest outing and how much fun he had flying his Wild Hawk, his buddies T-28, and his Radian.  Flights with three planes in one day.  Torcher!

OK, I get to relate on thing about this that makes me feel a little better.  My Dad was testing his Radian without the wing attached and accidentally bumped the throttle to full and had his plane launch across the garage!  He was lucky though and only damaged the canopy (only about $5 to replace).

Ok, OK, my weekend is half over and I still have to install brakes on my Jeep.  But, after that I’m free to fly!  I rush through the job (I've done this enough times) and am done in just shy of an hour (no air tools!).  I had already put my new LiPo pack and cell phone on their chargers to make sure they were topped off and ready to go.  I grabbed my plane, my transmitter, the battery, and cell phone.  Oops, almost forgot the tape to hold the cell phone on with!  That would have been unfortunate.  OK, got the tape too.  Jump into the Jeep and head out to my local flying spot.

I can hardly contain myself as I park the Jeep and get out my plane and gear.  I hurriedly walk across the park to the paved path through the wild life preserve next to the park.  Half way down is where I like to fly from as this puts me closest to the middle of the area.  I find my spot and fuddle through my mind all the steps that need completing.  Connect aileron servos.  Make sure wing is right.  Connect the battery, wait, turn on the transmitter first!  Whew, now connect the batter.  Darn it, the beeps, forgot to put the throttle to full and then off to program the speed controller!  Wow, got it just in time.  OK, the cell phone is already on now start the video app.  Almost forgot about the tape again.  Hurriedly strip off a piece of tape.  Darn it!  Fishing in my pocket for my knife.  Fumble with the knife and cut the tape.  Stick the tape to the phone and strap it to the wing.  One final test of the controls, and toss the video equipped Wild Hawk into the air.  Wow this plane is so stable.  What a joy to fly!

The plane has a natural trim up and in a left hand circle to I just lit it climb.  It’s over cast and I really wanted to get up into the clouds, but they proved to be too high today.  I flew up as high as I dared (can’t see it, can’t fly it) and cut the motor.  I was having a blast cruising this plane around and wondering what the video would show.  Knowing that the cell phone camera was just pining down, I made a few high banked turns to try to get the horizon and sunset into the picture.
After a little while I decided to bring it in for a landing.  Now I have been trying to land on the paved walk way for some time, but it’s really tricky as it is only about 10 feet wide and lined with 8x8 posts about 3 feet high and with cables strung along them.  So, any mistake on landing can be a bad one!  First pass I aborted and hit the throttle to gain altitude.  Turned around and came in again.  This time I used the right mount of rudder and elevator and made a nice touchdown.  The plane slid right up to my feet!  OK, I did jump back a little as I did not want it to run into me and cause me to do something stupid like, step on it!

I was so excited that I just picked it up and tossed it into the air again.  I did pretty much the same thing and took it up high.  Then I shut down the motor and just let it glide around.  There was a group of kids that noticed the plane and were all excited.  I could hear them from across the field as they were pointing it out to each other and trying to find it in the sky.  I flew over them hoping to catch them on film (digital film) and maybe give them a thrill of the plane flying over head.  I did a few maneuvers again to catch the scenery and this time I did a loop.  Just a mild and lazy one, kinda ended up on it’s side at the top.  I didn’t want to pull to hard on this one with the added weight of the cell phone and the possible frailness of the winds.  I’d hate to have my first flight video be of one of the wings buckling and then a nauseating rush of the scenery as it spiralled into the ground.  So, I didn't push it.
This time I brought the Wild Hawk in from the opposite direction.  And, again, I aborted the first pass.  But I did it again!  With the judicious use of the rudder and elevator, I coaxed my plane in for another spectacular landing.  OK, at my level of experience any landing that does not cause damage is spectacular!

What a rush!  I had the best time!  I wanted to fly some more but the sun was setting and it was getting cold again.  Plus I had diner to make.  My wife was braving the Christmas season shopping with my middle daughter so the least I could to was to have dinner ready when they got home.

Included is the video I took.  The unedited version is just over 17 minutes.  I’ll try to edit it down into smaller segments to make it more manageable and also get it into a better format (mpg maybe instead of 3gp)

Well I actually figured out how to use Youtube tools to edit my video and was able to cut it up and embed them into the text of this blog.

I added this video just to provide a view of where I fly.

I hope everyone enjoys this and please comment.

I thought I would update this post add a little video that shows the status of my battery after this outing. It till looks pretty good! Other that saying that the battery was fully charged right before I went out (12.?v), I can't say exactly what the charge was. But, with the info from this video, and knowing how long I flew, I think I could have flown a lot longer. Generally LiPo batteries have max battery voltage of 4.2 and minimum voltage of 2.8 and nominal voltage of 3.7. Ok, I know you would not want to run your individual batteries down to 2.8v, but even if they only went down to 3.0v, they are still only 1/3 their way down. So, a lot more flying could have been had.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad. Be sure to come back and check for future posts.