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Old Apr 13, 2005, 08:15 AM
Mike_P is offline
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Joined Jan 2005
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As always, great post. Many thanks for taking the time to offer these hints to beginners.

One important thing I think you left out though, is the problem of losing orientation due to aircraft visibility/lighting. I think this is one of the 2 or 3 major causes of crashes, and was the cause of mine a couple days ago (Falcon56 glow).

Coming back into the hobby after an absence of many years, I've been tending to fly in the early evening when the wind usually subsides. However, the lighting when the sun is relatively low in the sky can be especially treacherous. Oftentimes at certain angles all you see is a dark silhouette against the sky and it will be unclear whether it's banking left or right until the bank starts becoming severe and major control inputs are needed. Regardless of how carefully you covered/painted the aircraft for visibility (light on top, dark on bottom, for example) if you're not paying close attention all the time you can lose track of which way the aircraft is banking, and even whether it's inverted or not. I think older eyes are particularly susceptible to this.

I was watching one of the top pilots in our club fly one of his combat ships the other day. It was all one color and with an extended vertical stab both above and below the fuselage it looked almost perfectly symmetrical. It confused the heck out of me and I asked him why he didn't give himself some orientation cues in terms of contrasting top and bottom wing colors. He said it's so easy to lose orientation, he's reluctant to use the colors as a crutch, and concentrates on paying attention to how "he last left the aircraft" to aid in evaluating most likely current orientation.

I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, other than to be aware of the issue and try not to look away from the aircraft so you have to try to decipher its orientation from scratch with only visual cues. This is particularly important when the sun is low in the sky and the aircraft is smaller and at greater distances from you.

-- Mike
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