Joined Aug 2004
Well, a couple of weeks have passed since I last posted on this.
It took me two weeks to do the turn around on the wings. Hobby Services confirmed that they were manufactured incorrectly, and replaced the wings. Hobbico tech support asked me to remove only the Center Core Rib and servo from the wings, and send them. That is what I did. I had not, at that time, installed the speed flaps.
When I received the wings, they came back with another Center Core Rib, and a note saying that they had been tested, and everything fit. But, the wings were missing the control horns for the ailerons and the leading edge cuffs. A call to Hobbico had the tech scrambling to find me the stuff I needed. When the package arrived, I found the forward cuffs, but instead of the control horns, I now have another set of control pushrods and clevises. Fortunately, a trip to the local hobby store secured the required control horns. When I finally got the horns and installed them, and transferred the servo from the old Center Core Rib, I could not install the wings on the airplane. The hole that the 1/4-20 screw went through was about 1/8" off from there it should have been! The two center core ribs actually were different. So, I removed the new rib, and moved the wings and the servo back to the old rib, and installed that, instead.
My instructor looked over the airplane. The nose wheel was out of alignment, which I didn't catch earlier. During the construction of the airplane, after I read elsewhere in these forums, I checked all the screws, and found that many of them were loose, one set on the tail that if flown for very long may have actually come undone. Everything has been tightened up.
The instructor suggested that I not install the speed flaps on the aircraft, so I didn't. He was unimpressed with the roll rate of the aircraft, and explained that if I got it into a situation, there wasn't enough roll authority to get it out at a low altitude. He asked me to install a straight control arm for the ailerons versus the differential arm that is stock.
Every control surface was far from setup correctly, and required almost two hours of adjustment during the build to get everything set according to the instructions. Even then, I still missed the binding control arm on the throttle. I guess that's why instructors should look things over.
The landing gear of this airplane is a large sticking point with every NexSTAR owner I've talked to. It is a poor design, and is prone to failure. On only two flights with my aircraft, both landing and take offs done by the instructor, one of the wheels had worked its way loose of the retaining mechanism. Had these been touch and goes, it is possible that I would have, or could have, lost an entire landing gear. I will probably, with help from other members of the club, remove the landing gear assembly, and design something a lot more permanent and sturdy over the winter months.
One pilot told of his landing gear box breaking on two occassions. Furthermore, when he opened it up, he found that the balsa was fuel soaked, and easily pliable. To remedy that, he suggested, as I do also, the purchase of an exhaust extender, pointed down and away from the aircraft. This has kept my plane cleaner, and I see no signs (yet) of fuel seeping into the landing gear.
I have not connected the PA-2S sensor, so I have no AFS. The airplane is stable without it and the wing extensions, although I may put them on now that I have them. The speed flaps will not go on my airplane. As validated by the simulator and others experience, when you cut the throttle, the airplane takes a large nose down attitude, and makes pitching through the flare more abrupt, and more likely to pitch up to a stall.
If Hobbico takes to heart the recommendations that I made to them in a letter, and repairs the gear box, and checks quality, then this trainer, along with the software and hardware, will be a good trainer. Right now, however, I can't recommend it to anyone.