Flying an old friend
Took the old Eflite P-38 Lightning out for a flight yesterday evening. Hadn't flown it in at least a year, maybe two. I have a habit of not flying the planes I really like. Silly huh?
I warmed up with my Eflite Sea Fury (I love that little bugger!) and my FSK dH Mosquito (love that one too but it's a little harder to fly well). Time to get the P-38 in the air. Taxied her around a bit to make sure all was working well. Preflight all controls then line up into the wind and ease on 100% throttle. Gained about 3 feet of alt and began a curve to the right that I couldn't correct. Smacked the right wingtip into the grass and she came down hard but slow and broke the booms in the the usual places: at the front of the scoops and in front of the tail group. Broke the upper and lower rudder halves and cracxked the wing tip too. Easy fix with white Gorilla glue but what could the problem be? Certainly not me or my thumbs!
Took out my repaired Lightning and did the same warm up routine with the Mossie and the Sea Fury. Preflighted the P-38 and taxied around a bit. I noticed that the starboard motor spooled up a fraction of a second after the port motor but they came full on together. Lots of power. Lines up into the breeze and released the electrons and she scooted off and up. Too much up as it happened. I suddenly remembered that this one has the annoying habit of wanting to stand on its tail under full power! So there she is going up at about a 60 deg angle and arcing to the right. I pushed the elevator stick to kick the nose down some, ease back on the power and give her some left aileron and rudder. She's more level now but still resisting the left turn. I flick on the high rates for the ailerons and all she does is roll some without turning. I decide to trade turning for height so back on with the power and there she goes again climbing steeply. Once at height I cut back power and level her off and finally get a shallow left turn initiated. She's doing okay but the turn is a big wide one and she's eating up a lot of real estate as she comes around. By now she's back down wind and approaching the turn point for final when it occurs to me that the problem is the starboard motor! It's pulling but only a small enough amount to keep her from flipping over on her back. Mind you I'm only about 35 to 40 seconds into the flight so I don't feel like a total stooge for not realizing sooner what was happening. So the problem now is that I'm about to turn final which is a 90 deg left. See the problem? By now I have her adjacent to the far tree line. I can't judge her distance from the trees but it's no more than one mistake away which is about 4 or 5 seconds flying time. Worse yet is that she's also heading for the stand of trees on the north side of the field. I need to make a right turn NOW! No dice. So here we are near and below the tops of the trees and running out of room and options. Only one choice-- give her a blast of power. She pitches up and towards the far tree line pretty sharply. It's the starboard motor alright. She gained enough height that I could cut power way down and sort of stall her to the left. It worked! She's heading on final but pretty far out, maybe a hundred yards. I just kept modulating the throttle for height to stretch the glide and corrected the direction power off. She landed on the baseball diamond which is where she took off from. Only real scare was when I stalled her trying to get her to turn to final. For a split second I couldn't tell which way she broke-- left or right. I just got lucky that time. I really couldn't see her being a grey plane against the black trees in the shadow of the setting sun.
She lived to fly another day. I'll pull out the motors and esc's just in case and replace them on my next HK order. I think I'll try to work i some down thrust when I fix her motors.
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