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Old Mar 07, 2009, 08:01 PM
Hot Dawg Glider Pilot
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United States, TX, Weatherford
Joined Nov 2002
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The wonderful world of molded sailplanes

Well, I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed with my first molded sailplane. I had a built-up ARF that I liked just as well at half the money. I had a Dragonfly Strong that flew at least as well as my Onyx JW. Unfortunately, at first I made the mistake of judging all moldies by this one. I was ready to give up on the molded model thing all together. Then I had an epiphany as I was remembering the old days of Legionairs, Grand Esprits, and some of the other stuff. It was obvious then that some models fit my flying style and some just didn't. I remember guys talking about how great their Vikings were, but I built one and flew it 10 times, before selling it. It was a fine sailplane, but I didn't like it.

Flash forward to 2008 and I placed my Onyx JW up for sale. I thought I would maybe try the hottest brand going and see if I liked it better. I crashed it instead... Amazingly enough, I almost crashed the new Xplorer right out of the box. I had tried hard to diagnose what happened to my JW and thought I had a wiring chafe. It turned out to be a bad servo on the right aileron, and I had installed the same thing in my new Xplorer. I got lucky. On the first launch, I could tell I had everything very close to right. I flew for 25 minutes from a 150' launch. However when I touched down, the right aileron went full down and locked. When the JW crashed, it had entered a left turn that I couldn't coax it out of... and it went in hard from about 100'. Well, I went through my wiring and couldn't make the servo fail on the bench. Out a couple of weeks later and launched again, but popped off. Floated around and landed. Again on touchdown, the right aileron went full down and locked, buzzing it's little brains out. Needless to say, I replaced it and haven't looked back.

So, here I go, off to the 2009 SWC in Phoenix, 10 hours away, with a glider that I have now flown 6 times. And I am really not a bad pilot, but I fly woodies and RES more than anything. Also, I am using a skeg for the first time in competition. I was ill prepared. I was very inexperienced with skegs, to the point that I didn't know how to keep it taped on. I was also a bit ignorant with what I used, and it caused me to slide right down the 100-point line... and right past it... several times... ... What I was really unprepared for was the performance of the new Xplorer that I had bought. I wasn't finished with my setup when I arrived on Thursday, and I flew a couple of times to try to get it right. Friday morning I flew it a few more times, making changes each time.

SWC this year wasn't much of a challenge to make times. I made all of mine. I was surprised a couple of times that I got low, but I was able to scratch out. That's normal for me flying a Houston Hawk or Yardbird, but this time I was flying my Xplorer. I was able to thermal out from about 40' off the deck with 2:45 left on the clock. I needed that and as I turned down wind for an abbreviated landing pattern, I noticed the inboard wing trying to lift itself. I cranked it in a little harder and hit my thermal preset. Around and up she went, slowly at first, but it was lift. I might have been able to do that with the JW, but only AFTER the winglets were installed. I also enjoyed how nicely this model lands. I hit the line every time except the first time, when I was about 1' short... unfortunately, I slid through... However, not every time. I made 2 100-pointers in a row...

So, I guess buying a molded model is kind of like picking out a diner... If you don't see very many of a certain model, there may be a reason. If you don't see too many cars at the diner, there probably IS a reason... The Xplorer has been getting the same kind of attention the Pike Perfect was getting a year ago. Don't count the Perfect out... If you're picking out a moldie, go with what's very popular. There's a reason it's popular...

Enjoy...

Jack
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Old Mar 11, 2009, 04:09 PM
Pompano Hill Flyers
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ft.lauderdale, FL
Joined Nov 2008
56 Posts
xplorer sailplane

while reading your blog you mentioned both on onyx jw and an xplorer sailplane, i'm thinking about purchasing an xplorer and would like your opinion, how do you like it ? and how would you compare it to the onyx ? i haven't seen one and have heard it compared to the pike perfect, right now i fly a shadow and compete in florida, i also had a problem with an aileron servo but in my case it was a bad solder joint in the fuselage harness and the servo quit working in its neutral position. i also fly a trinity 3.2m f3j its a little heavy for competition and likes to fly fast, anyhow i'd like to have a second plane for competition as backup in case somthing goes wrong. thanks jamie
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 02:39 PM
Hot Dawg Glider Pilot
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United States, TX, Weatherford
Joined Nov 2002
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In my opinion, if you buy an Xplorer, it will become your first choice and the Shadow will become the backup. The Onyx JW is OK, but not up to competing with the Xplorer. I think the Xplorer thermals better than the Perfect, and lands at least as well.

Jack
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