New Products Flash Sale
phil alvirez's blog View Details
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 06, 2015 @ 10:52 PM | 7,300 Views
yesterday i went to our field at noon. it was overcast, and the windmills in the way were still. when arrived, there were clouds all over and almost no wind, so i launched my Maverick 3 (a 2 meter electric sailplane) that has vario, and climbed to 200 meters (440 ft), which is the height that makes easy to catch thermals for this size of airplane, and immediately began to get beeps that tell that there is lift, so swept the area. lift was at a corridor across the field from where the breeze was coming, a so-called wake, that i have experienced here some times before. then. after some time, i began to turn at the point where there was the strongest lift (the highest tones) and in short time i reached 351 meters (1,168 ft)! i could not believe my eyes (or should say: my ears, as it was the vario that told me the height). i never had an airplane so high. and still i could see the plane and what it was doing. but was so tiny! the good thing of having a vario is that now i know how high it is at any time. before, without it, my estimate of height was out of reality. anyway, now i began to worry at loosing the plane and trimmed it to go down, but still kept getting the tones that it wanted to climb. had to give it 'down' signal until i watched it increasing its speed, but was careful that it was not too fast as it could loose its wings. it was quite a fight, but eventually i managed to bring it down to 200 meters. and then the low voltage alarm went off! i had to hurry it down and land. then at home i checked the battery: it was down to 9%! i barely made it.
the flight was 35 minutes, but could stay there for a long time. it was good that i decided to bring it down to 200 meters, otherwise i would loose it due to low battery.
some say that flying is an adventure: you never know what may come. sometimes is the agony and the ecstasy.
still, i was lucky to have such experience and having a happy ending.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 25, 2015 @ 12:50 PM | 6,468 Views
umx radian:
for those of you fans of the lil rad am starting a thread where am bringing the posts i have placed in my blog, that are scattered all over the several pages, so you don't have to search.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 23, 2015 @ 08:42 AM | 5,744 Views
the only way i knew of going up without motor was with thermals.
(of course there is a way of staying up at a slope, but that is not the subject of this thread).
the purpose here is to seek for means to climb at a relatively flat field.
until recently i was of the idea that thermals were the only mean to do so, but when i moved to a new field, and got a vario that tells with beeps when the plane is climbing, i could search for lift and practically 'see' it as if it were painted in bright color. and then 1 day with clear sky my plane began to find lift in a long rectangular area across the field. there was a light breeze but lift was across it, not a circular pattern. i used it for as long as i wanted. it didn't move. it was an exhilarating experience. i couldn't believe my eyes-and my ears! i had to trim the plane down and drift far from the area to get out of it.
then i began to post at several forums and learned that it was a wave. there are several threads where i got answers.
eventually i moved them to my blog but now am starting this again here to see if there are more contributions and add data as i get it.will talk about my experience, but 1st will tell how is the place where i moved recently and am experiencing this: it is all flat farm land around, located at about 5 km (3 mi) at the north of a large lake, from where the wind blows most of the time. the 1st time i just explained it before, and for several days it didn't happen, until now again in clear sky, but this time stronger wind blowing from the north. and there were several waves that moved with the wind so i had to drift with them. altitude in both cases was about 200 meters (450 ft).
will bring more data as i find more experiences like this, but all polite, positive and to the point contributions are welcome.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:23 AM | 5,983 Views
i have been an enthusiast about flying on thermals, since my days of free flight, and now more with sailplanes, radio and vario at my hand am having the time of my life.
i have been compiling data on the subject, and as i said, with the aid of the vario am learning still more about them.
as far as i knew, thermals form from the ground and rise to the condensation level and become clouds. their shape could be bubbles or a column.
but now on clear sky am getting some lift that i find in areas like waves that run across, like some clouds that are lines that run parallel. this i 'see' because am using a vario that sends beeps when the plane climbs.
has any1 experienced this?
is there any link about this?
for more details i started a thread here:
and if you have any info please bring it here.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:07 AM | 5,456 Views
for all that i have seen (in text and real life), thermals develop as bubbles or columns that rise to the condensation level, where become clouds.
but recently in clear air i have detected updrafts in the shape of waves that run across the wind, very much like sea waves. or should i say "sort of currents that keep the plane up there"?
is there any data on this?
please bring only links or positive, polite comments to the point.

for more details, i started a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:00 AM | 5,196 Views
clear sky thermals
i have had my planes into thermals many times, be free flight towline gliders or rubber or engine powered, or r/c sailplanes.
so far i am under the impression that thermals rise from the ground in the shape of bubbles, although i could buy the idea that there are also columns. these bubbles or columns reach the level of condensation and form clouds. i have seen my planes reaching a cloud and being swallowed, so i believe this.
but what about a plane climbing into clear air? no clouds in sight?
this happens to me some times.
is there a source where we can learn about this?
meteorological data?
please bring any info here.
there has been some input at a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 07:59 AM | 5,111 Views
vario to detect thermals
am trying to learn from you guys who use a vario what is your experience on detecting thermals; what shapes have you detected;
their size, strenght, how they evolve as they rise, how they change their shape.
recently am beginning to use 1 and am trying to learn more about them. i consider that with a vario we have the way to learn more based on hard data. there are so many theories about them that i think this is the only way to clarify that.

any input based on your experience is welcome.
please comments polite, positive and to the point.

guys who use a vario.
for more details, i started a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Aug 15, 2015 @ 12:46 PM | 5,298 Views
am so happy that i want to tell you that today i went to the field and flew 4 of my sailplanes as long as i wanted as i was by myself and all flew well and landed nicely and got some thermals and there was almost no wind and came back without damage. this was the way it used to be for a long time. that is the idea of flying model airplanes, isn't it?
i have been through a series of radio failures and crashed many times several of my planes, and was not until changed field-and put 1 radio to rest-that things are going the way they were supposed to be, and had been for a long time. not even the moskitos got me!
so it feels good to just go fly and enjoy it.
and summer stil is not over.

so, i wish you all the same.

enjoy while you still can.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 28, 2015 @ 09:36 AM | 5,499 Views
i remember the days before i had access to the internet. whenever i needed some data or product, i had to write a letter, mail it, and wait for the answer or the shipment. it took at least 2 weeks.
then i got a computer and now i just click a few words asking for something, or search for it and i get it right there of after a few hours or days. or order something and pay paypal and is shipped to me and i get in a couple or weeks. it has accelerated my learning astronomically. no long waiting times. the only problem is getting the data in a clear way. so there are several possibilities: sometimes there is no data; others the manuals are written in chinglish. then could be that even in good english, it is not easy to understand, and then sometimes is clear. and no matter what, if in doubt, we may enter whatever forum and request some explanation, and most times we get it in short time.
wonderful times of change.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 26, 2015 @ 09:35 AM | 4,180 Views
just to remember that children listen, even when asleep, comes this funny episode:
i was talking to my daughter in law at the kitchen table, and my grandaughter was there too, apparently reading a book, when the conversation drifted towards cats, as they were considering bringing a cat for their daughter (which they eventually did), so i was explaining to my daughter in law about the retractable claws, and i said that also lyons and tigers had them, when my grandaughter snapped: 'lyons and tigers and bears, oh my!' as Dorothy in 'the wizard of oz' said. so she was listening all while reading. we laughed for a long time. she was so sharp!
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 10, 2015 @ 07:25 AM | 5,923 Views
1 of the main reasons why i keep so many planes, and all in good shape, is that i don't take chances. if windy, i don't risk them. that is, until now. recently it seemed not so windy, but when i arrived at the field it was blowing strong and turbulent. but still i decided to give it a go. and this was a 30 inches wingspan light plane. i never flew it in such conditions-not even close. and flew she did. bouncing and jumping, but landed safely, with almost zero forward speed. not comfortable flying, but controllable.
how could i do this? how could i dare to do this?
well, i happen to have 1 of the new stabilizers, that i tested before in several planes in moderate wind and were so convincing that this time i decided to try it to its limit.
so now am able to fly small planes in windy weather, in small fields near home, and see them flying like way larger planes-although i don't think will try this windy again.
the device includes the receiver, and weighs only 8 grams, so the plane barely feels the extra weight. full range, adjustable response, great instructions and support.
and a forum:
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 03, 2015 @ 11:19 PM | 6,422 Views
back at the nearby park, no snow, neither ice at the lake. better still, the 2 swans are back, although not on the water. perhaps it still is too cold for staying in it.
and some ducks on the water too.
means they are back because it is the time of the year to return, but still colder than what should be?
anyway, it was great to have little wind, so i could try my wings again.
for the past few years the swans have settled for the good weather. it is a great view.
like a post card. and all of them seem to feel comfortable when my planes fly by (maybe because all are electric).
this time i was anxious to try several things. 1 of them a stabilizer, that lets my small planes handle wind like bigger planes.
the other a vario, that i am exploring to detect thermals when it sounds tones.
both worked fine, but takes time to program them to my satisfaction, so am progressing on it. amazing technology at the reach of our hand!
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 17, 2015 @ 02:03 PM | 6,700 Views
yesterday was not so windy and above freezing so went to the park nearby.
the pond was still frozen but there was almost no snow on the grass.
a pleasant time i had.
and even more when in 1 flight, 2 'v' shaped geese formations flew near my plane.
they maneuvered to avoid my plane, otherwise just honking happily.
it was a pleasure to see them again. although not expected so soon.
maybe as the climate is going weirder every year they are disoriented about when to come back i guess.
they usually land on the pond but, as i said, it still is frozen.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 13, 2015 @ 12:44 PM | 6,545 Views
well, after surviving the coldest winter (even colder than the '13, but shorter), and with the snow melting, i noticed that there was almost no wind, so picked up my 2 stock umx radians (that have gyros), went to the nearby park and gave them a try. i just could not resist anymore the urge to fly! it was not too cold, just around freezing, and a slight breeze, so launched the plane, climbed as high as i could still see it and had a great flight, and then at landing catched it. just like if it were spring or summer. then at the 2nd flight i could not believe my eyes: there it was, jumping up into a strong thermal! never caught a thermal near freezing, so was not prepared for it. (perhaps because there are some homes under). i kept enjoying it for a while, but my fingers were getting stiff with the cold so decided to fly it out of the thermal and eventually landed. not much wind, so the gyros could take care of it. just some turbulence near the ground. spring is still around the corner, but this was an opportunity that could not let go away
so, get ready, folks!
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 28, 2015 @ 09:25 AM | 5,912 Views
i have many planes of several types, but the 1 with which i have more fun is the least expensive, and i can fly in places nearby. as close as the park at the back of my home ( i have flown it at my son's street too, where are no trees or obstacles). it is a short walk. the plane is the umx radian from horizon hobby, and is 30 inches wingspan and weighs 43 grams. i keep it assembled so there is no need to do anything else. and it is equiped with the latest advances in electronics. like gyros to stabilize it so it can fly in some wind, like larger planes.
the cost: back in the 70's, a 4 channels radio was $300; now i have the 6 ch orange for $50 ( no servos) and is computarized, so can program many things. even if you add lipo battery ($15) and shipping ($30), it still a bargain. ( i could use nicads, but am using a lipo that needs a charger. i got mine for $70, and use it for charging all my other planes too). and is 2.4, that there is no interference so you can fly even if others are flying too and don't have to worry about checking frequencies or that some1 shoots you down. then add the plane: i got the radian for $100 including shipping and some spares. it comes with a battery and charger and is ready to fly. it is all that you need to fly. then i got some batteries for extra flights, for $1.50 each. i can charge them at least 50 times and get 5 minutes of motor run, but as i use the motor just for climbing and that takes 30 seconds, i get 8 flights per charge. do the maths: for $1.50 i get 50 charges and 8 flights per charge=$1.50/400 flights=.375 cents per flight. that's right: about 1 cent per 3 flights.
so it depends what kind of planes you want to fly, but you can get something like this and, as i said, i am having more fun with it than with anything else.
this it the radian:
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:34 PM | 6,980 Views
the wisdom of purring
since i remember, i had a cat nearby. and he managed to make me happy, just by purring. he seemed to be telling me in his wisdom: we have all that we need to be happy, isn't it?
so, to me, hearing a cat purring reminds me that the things in life that really matter are at the reach of our hand.
the basics that we need to be happy.

for modelers, there are other sounds that make us happy. like the whirl of an electric motor. or the whisper of a prop of an electric plane like the radian. or for others the sound of an engine. that is all that we need to be happy. whatever.

as long as we don't forget what really matters in life, and that frequently we do.

so, enjoy the sound of happiness, whichever you like best.
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 15, 2015 @ 04:01 PM | 6,779 Views
i went to johnson city tn with Stu Weckerly from detroit several times to fly indoor free flight and had the time of our lives. once on our way back on sunday we stopped for lunch at a small town. the houses were kept in good shape, all clean, people friendly. near the restaurant there was a park where there was people having a picnic. benches on the grass, colorful umbrelas, kids playing with balls, baloons, a pond with swans, and the band playing on. just like in the old movies. we had to stay there for a few minutes to soak into that atmosphere of happiness, that we carried with us for a long time.
from time to time i like to open the treasure chest of my memories and bring back that experience. memories are made of this...
Posted by phil alvirez | Dec 09, 2014 @ 09:54 AM | 7,113 Views
how often you have this conversation: a friend asks you if you heard that Jim (or whoever) died? then you say: but i just saw him last week!
then you remember when was last time you saw him.
then you think: i wish i had known that he was going to die, so i could then tell him what i thought about him, right?
it is easy to remember when was last time you saw (or talked to) some1.

but, do you know when is last time you are seeing (or talking to) some1?

if you think about it, then wouldn't you act differently any time you see (or talk to) some1?
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 29, 2014 @ 01:51 PM | 7,071 Views
this is the way i enjoy flying my planes:
since i flew free flight, i enjoyed rubber band powered, and engine powered planes; but most of all, hand launch and towline gliders. are you getting the point?
so when i got into the umx radian, i found myself living more than a dream, more than a fantasy. i carry the plane in the back of my car, and when i go shopping, if the weather seems ok, i drift to the nearby park (that has a pond and swans and the like) and launch my silent magic white thing and live a fantasy. and catching an ocassional thermal is even better! then, catching it and launching again...and on and on.
it is even better than dreaming. even if there are few onlookers, sometimes i see from the edge of my eye a fellow that stops and watches the entire flight and the catch and then he goes back to walking without saying a word. and that, is the most valuable testimony 1 can get. to see some1 feeling the same emotion of watching a silent cloud-like fantasy flying by. beyond chinese tales. not even aladin with his magic lamp had a dream like this. so, there are several ways to enjoy life. this this my way.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 23, 2014 @ 08:12 AM | 7,317 Views
since the beginning, i learned that it is a matter of time-and learning-before i could successfully fly anything. 1st free flight, with hand launch gliders, then towline gliders, then rubber powered, then engines. later control line, r/c.
years later indoor free flight rubber powered. then indoor r/c at the gym.
but with all, the key was: perseverance. takes time to learn whatever you need, to achieve the ultimate goal: to fly your plane.
so, don't give up. the joy of seeing your plane flying is worth the effort.