|May 04, 2009, 01:31 PM|
The obituary of the SRT/10
Well, lets see. Where to start!
As you all know, this plane was a big project. There are so many people that helped out along the way I could never remember to thank them all.
Kristy, Carson, Leslie and Kameron helped me with this thing from start to finish. They put up with daddy being outside in the shop for weeks on end so it could fly just 10 days or so before I went to Afghanistan. Then, when I got home, they put up with it again to get it ready for SEFF. Thanks for being right there beside me through the entire thing. What a great family I have. Love you guys!
Without Jeremy at Ohio Combat, this thing would still be an idea in my head. Thanks for helping me make this thing real Jeremy! Be proud man, it flew at SEFF! There is no better place to have it die either. It was your airfoil, your foam, your design and it was awesome just like the rest of your planes. Thanks bud.
Of course, then there are the companies that helped. Ohio Combat, Castle Creations, Ecubed RC, Action Hobby, Horizon Hobby, Maxx Amps, Hobby Lobby, and Thunder Power. There is no way I could have afforded the electronics for this beast without all the help from these great companies. So, lets keep buying thier products guys, thats the only way they can afford to help with huge projects like the SRT/10! And if any of you get the chance, shoot them an email and tell them thank you for helping make the plane real. It might just help the next guy who wants to do something insane. They need to know that the money they have in this plane was worth it.
Joel, Jack and all the guys at SEFF who helped out in one way or another... Thanks for all the hard work guys. Without you, I wouldnt have been able to fix it and fly it at SEFF. Even the Ritewing guys gave up parts, tools and advice to help get it done. Class act guys. Thanks.
Now, the story...
I spent the last 2 months or so trying to get the SRT/10 ready for SEFF. I needed motor mounts, landing gear, and all electronics re-installed after being stored for a year.
I got a buddy at a machine shop to make those awesome adjustable motor mounts for me that worked perfectly! I got the mounts just 3 days before I left for SEFF. Thanks Bill!
I rebuilt the landing gear with 6061 1" square aluminum tubing. That stuff is insane light and crazy strong! The mounting plates were the soft part, and even they took the punishment very well.
During the last week before SEFF, I found that one of my HV-85s was smoked. Not sure why, it had merely sat on a shelf in my house for a year. A quick call to Lee at Castle, and Jason at Hobby Lobby, and I was off to Nashville to pick up a replacement HV-85. Thanks guys.
So, it was all working again and finished on Sunday night. My entire family was out in the garage with me helping until about 11pm. It was great having them all out there. And I sure needed the help! I loaded up the trailer so I could leave at 0600 Monday morning.
Monday morning, 0630 I was out the door headed toward SEFF with a planned stop off in Crossville, TN to meet the AMA inspector to get the SRT/10 certified. We met, we went to the field, I pulled it out, and he said "Holy cow!" The inspection check all electronics, the construction, and controls to make sure it would not self destruct in the air and be certain I wasnt trying to fly a 70lbs wing with speed 400s and HS 55s in it. He was happy, and gave me a temperary certificate to fly.
I taxied out, said a prayer, and took off with a stiff cross wind. I firewalled the throttle and the beast was up in about 40 feet. I had the thrust angle adjusted a little to far "up" and she wanted to climb under power, but it was good enough that I found a "happy setting" and flew a couple patterns to get the feel of it. Then, on a up wind leg, I yanked up and she looped big strait and proud. It was awesome to see that monster do that! I was coming around at about 3/4 throttle to do a roll for the inspector next. I put it into about an 80 degree left bank (with a direct tail wind) at about 150 feet of altitude, and about half way through the turn, the left motor dropped out.
THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM STARTED!
The right motor pushed it around and put it into a spin. I jammed the nose down, reset the throttle and the motor cut out again. One more reset on the throttle to about 1/2 and she started to pull out, but it was too late. It hit... HARD... on the other side of a fence. We went out to get it and found the two of the lipos were destroyed, one wing was bent a bit, the nose was history and the gear was tweeked. I figured that was the end of it. So we put it in the trailer so I could at least display it at SEFF.
I arrived at Hodges Monday evening just as the sun was setting. I pulled it out, and put it together so I could leave it sit for the week so folks could see it. Then Jeff Meyers came by. He was so excited that it was there, and he wanted it to fly during the demos. I explained what happened, and he told me we just had to fix it. I told him even if we fixed it, I had no batteries now. So, Jeff called up Jason Merkle at Thunder Power.
I talked to Jason on the phone, we figured out what I needed and Jason over nighted 2 6S 4450 packs and 2 4S 4450 packs for a total of 10S 8900mah so we could fly the SRT/10!! Thank you Jason and thank you Thunder Power!
Tuesday morning Jeff brought Rick Vaughn (national champion glider guy and AWESOME scratch builder) down to help assess he damage. Rick was confident we could fix it. With a list of parts, I headed for Lowes.
Once I came back, Joel (MetroGTI) came over and introduced himself. Joel jumped in and said he would help with the repairs. What a great guy! He helped me work on this thing for the entire week all day and part of the nights every day. It couldnt have been done without his help thats for certain! During the repair, people would stop by and ask questions, do interviews, take pictures, offere advice, offer cash to help with repairs, offer parts ect... So I would stop working, talk to them, do the interview, etc... and Joel just kept trucking along on the SRT.
While we were working Jack Fetter charged and balanced the new Thunder Power lipos, bought covering so the beast wouldnt have to fly naked, and offered assistance in any way he could. Thanks Jack, Im glad to have gotten to meet you!
Finally, it was ready, Thursday I think. That evening, they shut down the entire flight line at SEFF for me the AMA inspector and the SRT!!! WOW! I had Mac Hodges field all to myself with a crowd of about 1000+ people behind me watching, snapping pictures and cameras rolling. I slowly started to roll out, trying to keep it strait. It went right just a bit, and I was running out of space. I had to pull it up or hit the tall grass. Well, not enough airspeed, too much up trim, and slightly tail heavy (I think) added up to it coming strait up about 15 feet, "winging over" to the right side, and THUD! Into the ground it went in front of all the people who had been watching the repair all week.
We pulled it out of the mud and grass, assessed it, and it was not bad at all. A little structural damage on the left inside wing above the landing gear, the nose was weakened just a bit, and the right wing was bent upward.
Friday came. Joel and I took the day off and enjoyed SEFF. We flew some planes, had some fun and talked about the SRT. There must have been 200 people who asked if we were going to fix it and try again. With all that interrest we decided we would fix it on Sat. morning for a flight on Sat evening.
So, work work work all day Saturday. Joel and I went nuts on it, got it all ready to go by about 3 pm and it started raining. We set it up to check everything out and one outboard elevon would not work!!! OH MAN! So, a quick check revealed that one of the servos was dead. A run over to Macs shop netted us a metal gear servo that was "close enough" to the others. We installed it, made adjustments and went to test again. Controls worked! Thank God!
We put the new Thunder Power lipos in and went to fire it up! One motor would not spin!!! CAN ANYTHING ELSE GO WRONG!!! Lucky for us, Lee Estingoy was sitting there with us, he grabbed me a new HV-85, programmed it on his lap top and Joel and I soldered it up and put it in. DONE. It all worked again.
So, now its 6 pm or so, I call the inspector, he is already at the field. The rain stops, so we taxi out to the runway. I run over to ask Jeff Meyers and Rick Vaughn if we can shut the place down again and give the SRT a go. They say go for it. Well, while I was there, and the SRT on the runway ready, it started pouring rain again. The guys grabbed a tarp for me and covered it up... still armed and plugged in and ready to fly! 20 minutes of rain came and went. It was clear. We yanked the tarp, taxied out and prepped for flight.
Once everyone was off the runway, I again said a prayer, and started the take-off run. Just before it had the speed to go, the right motor cut out. I killed the throttle and the plane did a gentle wing over into the grass. We ran down, pulled it out, put it on a golf cart and took it back to try again.
So, here I am again, on Macs field with hundreds of people watching from the sidelines. I line up, hit the throttle and SMOOTHLY increase to about 3/4 so I wouldnt cut out a motor again. Toward the end of the runway, I gently pulled up, it rose up strait and smooth, bobbled a bit down (due to the down trim I had put in) and I climbed out while listing to the cheers of all the people on the sidelines watching. 6000+ watts and 70lbs of flying wing cruising through the field at SEFF!!!! It was AWESOME!
I made a turn to head downwind and yelled for someone close by to give me some up trim. Someone gave me about 6 clicks, and it was hands off, rock solid stable in level flight! Oh so nice! The beast covered Macs entire field pretty darn quickly. It looks like its just lumbering along due to the size, but it was moving along at a good clip. I made another turn, away from the spectators and did the upwind leg almost completely hands off somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 throttle.
At the end of the field, I flew it out a long way, made my turn and over shot my base leg a bit. The plane was lined up way out toward the specators. Not good. I wanted to do a low pass over the runway, so I pushed the nose down a bit and planned to turn it back over the runway. It started to decend, and it kinda "tucked under" and dove hard! I pulled back on the elevator, and nothing. I think the servos were being worked a bit too hard. Even though there are 6 of them on the controls with a total of over 650 oz/in of torque. So, I pulled back HARDER! It jumped up, but, when I released the "up elevator" it dove again... right toward the people at the end of the field. In my mind, I had no choice but to dump it. No way was I going to possibly hit someone with this monster of a plane.
I killed the power and put it in the dirt as smoothly as I could. It hit, slid and flipped completely destroying the airplane. People were running for cover and it was a sight to see for sure.
In hind sight (always 20/20 right!) when it went into the dive, I should have simply turned it to the left, back toward the runway. But, I was so focussed on "why wont the elevator pull this thing up!" that I basically got tunnel vision and was not thinking about anything but pulling up.
We went out and picked up the parts and took it to show center for everyone to see and photograph. All the electronics appear to have survived (including the new Thunder Power batteries) but the airframe is done. Everyone cheered and offered thier condolences, but, what it all comes down to is this... Thanks to MANY MANY PEOPLE, the plane got built and flown before I left for Afghanistan. Then, it got repaired... TWICE...at SEFF. And finally it flew right there, in front of everyone who had a hand in it and many who didnt. And I got what I wanted, the SRT/10 flew at SEFF.
Am I dissappointed, well, sure. But in the end, its just a plane. It was neat, but what really matters is the friends I have made through out this entire thing. You guys have all been great, and I am glad to have been able to meet some of you, talk with you and share this project with so many people. Thank you all for everything you have done.
Trust me when I say, you have not heard the last from me! Just keep these words in mind... "Bigger, better, faster, stronger, lighter" Thats all I'll tell you for now!
Anyone who has pictures or video of the SRT/10 PLEASE post them here!!! We would love to see what you have!
(cue the sad ending music)
Im outta here for now. Thanks again, its been one hell of a ride!
|May 05, 2009, 09:31 AM|
I've enjoyed following this model since you started working on it in your garage. I was sad to hear of its demise but it sounds like you are in good spirits and had many people appreciate your efforts. What more can you ask for!?! It's nice to hear that you were supported by many individuals and vendors to help your dream (albeit, a short one) come true. Wish I was there to see it up close.
Can't wait to see what's next up your sleeve!
|May 05, 2009, 07:48 PM|
You know, if it wouldn't pull up it prolly wouldn't turn worth a durn, neither. Far better that the plane eat dirt than the spectators eat LiPo. I applaud your decision to auger the plane rather than risk the spectators.
|May 05, 2009, 08:12 PM|
Thanks guys. I already have a plan for the replacement. But, I have a bunch of other stuff I want to take care of before I get started on it.
|May 05, 2009, 11:27 PM|
Wanted to start off by saying that the SRT was and will always be a very good example of what electric powered flight is capable of. This is only shadowed by the effort and determination of Laine. As I read threw the thread and obituary and a lot of reflection,I started remembering the what if's possibilities and numerous questions,which I believe Laine and I tried to answer them all as well as help from other RCG members. The final decision rested on one man's shoulders and in the end I can honestly say he was correct in his decisions which without question is complemented by an unparalleled building skill.
I guess in my summation of the short but sweet life of the SRT,I can say dream big- real big,ginormous even work hard and fly electric.Laine opened the door- there's a lot of information in the thread as well as the people who helped.Go for it.
|May 06, 2009, 09:34 AM|
La Vista, Nebraska
Joined Mar 2007
Sorry to see the beast is lost. The SRT-10 inspired me to build my monster wing. It's been a big hit everywhere I've flown it. Most people don't think it will fly and it's always great to see them eat their own words. Flying it on Saturday at a glider event here in Omaha.
Thanks for the inspiration!
|May 06, 2009, 09:43 AM|
I'd just like to comment on all of the help that Laine received with this project. While at SEFF, no less! This is what makes this great hobby of ours so wonderful... people and manufacturers went out of their way to help a fellow modeler realize his dream. I have renewed faith in the human race! Congrats Laine!
|May 07, 2009, 01:15 AM|
I followed the build, impressive.
I followed the first test flights, and landing gear teething troubles.
I followed your deployment.
Now I see the end of this fantastic bird, but not before it let you pilot it at SEFF. The final post you penned is a classic, and a testament to how modelers can come together to achieve something that will last in the memory of many people.
Thank you for undertaking the task, thank you for sharing it. And, above all else, thank you for your service. Thanks to your whole family for supporting your service, and your obsession.
|May 07, 2009, 06:22 PM|
Thanks wrightme... your comments are very appreciated. It was a fun, albeit, hard project. I enjoyed it the whole time I complained about it during the build. I loved it while I whined about how hard it was to move around. It was an awesome looking plane and I loved to see it taking up all my space in the trailer! It certainly had its good points, and certainly had its bad. I do miss it, and so does the wife and kids, but none of them miss me being outside messing with this or that on it.
Bitter sweet for sure. But, now its time to move on to bigger and better things. I am looking forward to building my next plane... alot. And halfway through, I'll be complaining and whining etc... but it will still get done. And when I see it take to the air, I'll get that same thrill as I did when the SRT first flew. I love to hate this hobby, and I hate to love this hobby! What could be better than designing and building new, better, bigger, faster planes!