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Archive for July, 2017
Posted by rclad | Jul 27, 2017 @ 11:23 PM | 3,857 Views
My 87" 3DHS Extra 300 now has a new Xpwr 60cc motor, replacing an identical one that blew a bearing a couple weeks ago. After being grounded with only my little Extra for practice, I was looking forward to getting this big bird back in the air.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't cooperating today. I got to the field after work in time to see some rain rolling in. The usual Thursday crowd was absent, so I had the field to myself. I got one good 8 minute flight in before I had to shelter for a while. When the skies started lightening up I put my Extra on the taxi way again, inserted the batteries and waited for a hole in the clouds. Instead they closed in, and I got caught in more rain. After an hour of that I had a 15 minute window before it got dark, so I squeezed in one more flight.

I love this plane! Compared to the little Extra, the big one flies like a dream. It just floats, flies with precision, climbs vertically with power to spare, and lands like a pussycat.

Summer in Ohio means dodging thunderstorms, flying in crazy winds, sweating through heat and humidity, and sometimes, getting caught in the rain. As long as you keep the electronics dry, the plane, and pilot, don't seem to mind.
Posted by rclad | Jul 23, 2017 @ 04:40 PM | 3,849 Views
Art is arguably a very subjective field. What captures the imagination of one person may be of no interest to another. Art can be as ephemeral as the moment it portrays.

I'm not a photographer, nor consider myself an artist, but I have an interest in both. Out of the thousands of photos I have taken over the years, only a few stand out in my eye. Because it is so difficult, especially when the subject is moving fast, I'm always impressed when someone captures a good photo, even if the subject is mundane.

Here are a few of my favorite photos that I have taken. They may not reach the level of "art", but they capture for me some element that makes this hobby both inspiring and captivating.
Posted by rclad | Jul 20, 2017 @ 10:27 PM | 4,080 Views
The Cincinnati Warbirds EAA Squadron 18 hosted the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, July 12-16. One of the planes that flew in for the static display and rides was "Fifi", a B-29 Superfortress built in the last weeks of WWII. (I captured this short video on my cell phone, so quality is not great.)

Tucked away in an upper room of the airport is a small museum. On display is a beautiful, very detailed, scale RC model of a Stinson Reliant. (I'll have to go back for a photo - sorry!) I asked the curator about the unusual tail hook on the bottom. He said the full scale version was used to pick up mail. The pilot had to fly about 25 feet off the ground and within a 12 foot wide zone to catch the cable, then a crewman reeled in the bag. They rarely missed.

B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" at Lunken Airport, Cincinnati, OH (0 min 41 sec)

Posted by rclad | Jul 13, 2017 @ 10:05 AM | 7,430 Views
This actually happened to my plane the other day. I was flying my electric 3DHS 87" Extra 300 SHP, practicing for the next IMAC contest, when the wings suddenly rocked. It wasn't air turbulence. My first thought was a glitch in the radio, or interference. It was that violent. I went on to make a couple more flights and all was normal.

The next day (yesterday) as I was preparing the plane for the first flight I found the cause of the glitch. Embedded in the side of the canopy was a micrometeorite, complete with creases radiating out, similar to fractures found in glass struck by a bullet. It was small, under 1 mm in diameter, but they typically travel at 11 km/s. Even weighing in at only 10∧-6 grams (in the typical weight range) the force of impact would have been approximately 18 newtons or 4 pounds. That's 4 pounds pushing on a 21 pound airplane. It's about the same weight as all the batteries on board - combined.

The odds of a model plane getting struck by a meteorite, especially in the canopy - about the only place the evidence would remain or be seen on a balsa/ply airframe - must be extremely low. Ahem, astronomically low.

[Edit: The good folks on the Astronomy dot net forum are skeptical it was a meteorite. Terminal velocity by the time it reached the lower atmosphere would be too slow to have that kind of impact. Someone suggested a shotgun or pellet gun - or even slingshot! Our runway is about 1,000' from a hillside, so a gunshot would have echoed off the hillside. I would have heard that, and it was quiet the entire evening. ]

What do you think? Post a suggestion, if you think there is a more reasonable explanation.
Posted by rclad | Jul 11, 2017 @ 11:57 AM | 17,193 Views
The AirMasters airfield where I fly has a runway oriented NE/SW, so flying in the morning on the west side of the runway means the sun will be in my eyes. I usually fly late in the afternoon (after work) when the wind is calmer, the thermals have gone, and the sun is not an issue. Flying in an IMAC contest, however, means I sometimes have to face the sun. That is not a good situation.

I was introduced to a simple solution to this problem at my first IMAC contest. Someone had made a sun blocker, a simple disc mounted on a pole inserted into a tripod. It worked great! I eventually got around to making my own for my home airfield. In my haste I used a plastic picnic plate as my disc. I just strapped it to a wooden dowel with a couple zip ties. At the last IMAC event the wind was so strong it just ripped the plate off the dowel.

So, I came up with a more permanent solution. I cut a disc from some scrap fiber board I had on hand. I sealed the face with some primer and glued a doubler and some cleats to accept a dowel on the back. My daughter agreed to provide a little artistic flourish to give it some color. (Her picture also helps to explain the purpose of this device, as the members of my club kept asking me what the previous sun blocker was, and "How are you supposed to hold it and fly at the same time?" when I brought the latest version to the field unassembled.)

A brick in the bag attached at the bottom of the tripod provides ballast, so the disc won't fall over in a strong wind.
Posted by rclad | Jul 10, 2017 @ 09:10 AM | 18,710 Views
I'm posting this log as a reminder to avoid making the same mistake twice. As in full scale flying there are endless ways in this hobby to hurt oneself or others, damage or destroy an airplane, or damage someone's property. Sometimes, it's a string of events - poor choices made in haste or carelessness - that lead up to an accident. A little caution and good judgment will go a long way to prevent their occurrence. We can't make life risk free, but we can free ourselves from unnecessary risks. As a banner in a Pensacola Navy hangar reminded me, "If there's doubt, there's no doubt." Think about it....

What is the difference between an accident and an incident? I'm not aware of any real distinction by the AMA. They seem to use the terms interchangeably. (See Insurance Claim info below.) Obviously model planes don't carry passengers, but here are the NTSB definitions that can help make a distinction for us:
In Part 830, the NTSB defines an accident as:
  • an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and when all such passengers have disembarked,
    in which any person suffers death or serious injury,
    in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

Substantial damage means damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft. This type of damage would normally require major
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