2010 - Finally hitting the slope with the Dream Flight Alula!
Oh, wait...I bought an electric plane so I could garner the necessary skills to fly slope and thermals. I got carried away! Time to get back on track. After countless hours of searching RCG and the rest of the web I decided that the DF Alula might just be my first non-powered plane. I was looking for a do it all kinda plane that could handle the mishaps of a slope noob. Light wind flying and hand launch capability were attractive traits. I convinced my Paypal account to cooperate with Dream Flight and the deal was done. Impatiently waited a couple weeks and the little birdie was home to nest. Oh jee, I actually have to do something to fly this one unlike my PZ planes. The manual is great, the parts are all finished, the design is well planned. After some setbacks sanding nubs, painting and installing CF reinforcements I had it RTF. It's a basic build but I still learned quite a bit of stuff. I didn't really intend to hand launch it much but there was no wind so off I went. It seemed to fly a little funny but then again, I don't know what I'm doing with this plane. Didn't really get very far because I was more interested in waiting for slope lift. In the meantime I started scouting the local slopes so I would know where to go when the wind picked up. This exploration can be quite fun itself. I think it must have been a week or so before some Westerlies appeared on the radar. I headed up to one of our local slopes (Bald Butte) to see if I could get this thing to fly. It was quite an adventure getting up there but holy cow, what a view. Here I am, one man on the slope and the wind seems suitable for sloping. I toss the bird as I've watched people so many times online and BAM, it nosedives into the ground. I trim, try again, trim, try again. Whoohoo, no control and my Alula flutters off downwind into the bushes. Sure wish I had someone here that knew what they were doing. Oh, well. Trial and error, lots of error. I continued for quite some time and eventually got the bird in the air for a few minutes at a time, a couple times. It was a struggle. I had a feeling I was either doing something wrong, the wind was too strong, too light or slightly off in direction for that slope. I called it a day and wen't home happy with a couple decent flights and the memory of this beautiful place in my head.
Unfortunately the wind pretty much died for months throughout the winter and I was unable to further test my hand at sloping. As I waited for spring I scoured the internet for information on how to fly slope, watched videos, dreamed. There were several things but I think I found the major error in my ways. Upon further inspection and reflection I determine that I have an extremely tail-heavy bird. I made a little pencil jig and got her balanced out. Now to wait for wind. I had plenty of other stuff to keep me busy so the bird went on the shelf and waited for windier days.
Signs of spring arrived and so did the wind. Sometimes East, sometimes West. fortunately we have slopes for both here. The station tells me the Westerlies are blowin' so I load up the gear and head off to the closest slope, Lumber. I walk the trail hoping for the best, I arrive and it feels promising. Lets give it a go. I hold my breath, wait till the plane feels light in my hand and give it a little toss. It flies!!! I'm flying!!! Holy cow! This is the most amazing feeling! I'm not crashing, I have no power...I am taking this HOOK, LINE and SINKER! Boy what a difference proper CG makes. What a fun plane! What a fun hobby! Total bliss! Now I must get my friends addicted.
I have had a blast with my Alula. I've flown it in a variety of locations, hand launched it when I had no wind, ballasted it up like mad in higher winds, beat it, healed it, love it. It has totally ruined my desire to fly electric planes and I don't care.
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