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Old Jun 22, 2003, 08:32 PM
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Joined Feb 2001
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Review of Sylvair's flying wing

It's kind of funny, because my opinion of this wing has done a complete 180 in the past week. When I first recieved the plane, and flew it, my thoughts were of another mediocre, underpowered flying wing. But by today (sunday) I look at the thing in a new light; it's an indestructable fun machine!
First, a little backround. I got the wing from Wooglin, from the Pay it Forward thread. So it was used, although I didn't know to what degree. He included the plane, and a motor (Graupner speed 280) and a prop (push on gunther). My first flight was a disaster. I was at the glow field with my friend, who was flying his concept. I had the plane in my truck and I was itching to fly, but it was very windy and gusty (wind range from 0-20 mph). Normally I wouldn't try it, but it's a foamie so why not! I strapped my battery on with packing tape, as I had not yet devised a good battery mounting system, and gave it a few glides to get the reflex and trim generally right. Then I gave it a go with the power on. It was a total handfull. It was twitchy, tended to kick out of turns, and had a HORRIBLE zagi-wobble problem, when you would level out from a turn the nose would hunt +- 15 degrees or so from side to side. I was not very impressed. I brought it back down and took a look at the CG. It was about 3/4 of an inch behind the mark, but the battery was taped so far forward I thought it might fall off! It definitely needed some sort of nose weight. Using my 7 cell 270 NiCD pack didn't help the situation either, although it did offer a bit more power than the 8 cell NiMH packs. But, this was still not the plane I was looking for.
I brought it back to my house, and added some nose weight while my batteries charged again. Mostly just loose change, I think the total was around $2.00, mostly quarters. So I walked out to the small field by my house, but this time the results were even worse! The CG was right on, but the plane was so heavy that it still had to fly close to a stall, full power, to keep flying level. I was definitely not impressed. It also had even more of a tendancy to kick out of turns. I thought the problem might be the tiplets, so I brought the plane back to my house for some more modification. I used some 1/8" sheet balsa, and traced the outline of the tiplets on the balsa and cut out a pair. Then I used some velcro to attach them on (fuzz on the tiplets, hooks on the wing). I also used some velcro on the wing for attaching batteries. Again, more flying, but it didn't seem to solve the problem. But it was just around this time that my first godsend showed up: Powerex batteries. A couple 8 cell 700 mah powerex packs (NiMH) showed up in the mail, that I had bought for my piccolo. Since the piccolo wasn't flying, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try them out on the Mini-B. I charged them both up and took the plane out to the field: I swear, I was flying a completely different plane! Because the packs are in a block configuration, I could attach them under the nose and the CG would actually be in an acceptable location!! It was only about 1/4" behind the mark, which was fine with me. The Powerex packs were also able to provide the wattage I needed to fly this plane with the speed it needed, and also give me good duration. It was a blast to fly, no more zagi wobble, no kicking out of turns. Everything about the plane improved. However, it seemed like the motor was getting awfully hot. I can understand a motor getting somewhat warm, but so hot to the touch that it can burn you, that just isn't right! But this was a blessing in disguise. On saturday (yesterday) my motor just stopped working, wouldn't power on at all. So I switched it out with another speed 280 I had around. This was the second godsend! After opening the original motor, it had signifigant wear and tear to all parts of the motor, and melted brushes caked on to the commutator (I think that's what it is, whatever the brushes rub on). So I'm guessing it was used extensively by wooglin before he gave it to me. The new speed 280 seemed to be turning extra RPMs when I powered it up in my hand, so I was eager to see how it would perform at the field. It was a total revolution: climb rate improved drastically, it now had the power to loop from level flight, to 3-4 consecutive rolls (watchout though, the thing rolls so fast it's hard to keep it level!), or crusing/inverted cruising flight at just above half-throttle. I was very impressed! Endurance seemed to improve a little bit, maybe an extra minute or two of flying on top of the original 15+ minutes I was getting. But the biggest improvement was the speed. If you punch the power, and give it a few seconds to accelerate in a strait line, it will hit 40 mph no problem in level flight, and I'm guessing over 60 in a slight dive! My favorite thing to do is to hit the power, go into a slight dive, gain as much speed as possible, and just pull up to about 45-60 degrees and roll it as much as possible. You can get 3-4 rolls out of it before it starts to head downhill again and you need to pull out. Another favorite of mine is to do the same approach, but to pull vertical, and just before it runs out of steam start a bit of rotation, and hold the aileron. It will flop around the top a bit, in a sort of twisting/sliding/spinning motion and end up heading strait down again! It looks really cool, and is easy to do. Overall, I'm completely impressed with this little plane, it did way more than I expected it to do. Oh, I forgot to tell you about it's durablility! It's just pink foam, no EPP, but man, can it take abuse! I was doing one of those arcing-rolling maneuvers I told you about before, and totally lost orientation as it flew directly over my head. I stopped the roll, and gave it up elevator, to pull it out, when instead it heads directly downhill, strait into the ground at full power! Damage: none! picked up the battery and velcroed it back on! I'm also perfecting the grass-catch landing, flying down the runway a foot or two above the grass, and flying it strait into the wall of tall grass at the end of the runway! It's lots of fun, and is really funny to watch if it's done at full power, because it ends up flying through the grass for 7 or 8 feet before it finally stops. This plane lets me try whatever I want without worrying about damage. I even got to dogfight with a crow! That's another story though, our field has some nasty birds! If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask. Oh, I believe you can/could buy this kit directly from the user "Sylvair" on the e-zone, I'm not sure if he's still making them. As I can recall, it's $35 for the wings, tiplets, prop, motor, a roll of covering tape, and hardware, or $40 for covered wings, tiplets, prop, motor, and the rest of the roll of tape that was used to cover your plane!
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