phil alvirez's blog View Details
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:23 AM | 6,277 Views
i have been an enthusiast about flying on thermals, since my days of free flight, and now more with sailplanes, radio and vario at my hand am having the time of my life.
i have been compiling data on the subject, and as i said, with the aid of the vario am learning still more about them.
as far as i knew, thermals form from the ground and rise to the condensation level and become clouds. their shape could be bubbles or a column.
but now on clear sky am getting some lift that i find in areas like waves that run across, like some clouds that are lines that run parallel. this i 'see' because am using a vario that sends beeps when the plane climbs.
has any1 experienced this?
is there any link about this?
for more details i started a thread here:
and if you have any info please bring it here.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:07 AM | 5,892 Views
for all that i have seen (in text and real life), thermals develop as bubbles or columns that rise to the condensation level, where become clouds.
but recently in clear air i have detected updrafts in the shape of waves that run across the wind, very much like sea waves. or should i say "sort of currents that keep the plane up there"?
is there any data on this?
please bring only links or positive, polite comments to the point.

for more details, i started a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:00 AM | 5,452 Views
clear sky thermals
i have had my planes into thermals many times, be free flight towline gliders or rubber or engine powered, or r/c sailplanes.
so far i am under the impression that thermals rise from the ground in the shape of bubbles, although i could buy the idea that there are also columns. these bubbles or columns reach the level of condensation and form clouds. i have seen my planes reaching a cloud and being swallowed, so i believe this.
but what about a plane climbing into clear air? no clouds in sight?
this happens to me some times.
is there a source where we can learn about this?
meteorological data?
please bring any info here.
there has been some input at a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 08, 2015 @ 07:59 AM | 5,378 Views
vario to detect thermals
am trying to learn from you guys who use a vario what is your experience on detecting thermals; what shapes have you detected;
their size, strenght, how they evolve as they rise, how they change their shape.
recently am beginning to use 1 and am trying to learn more about them. i consider that with a vario we have the way to learn more based on hard data. there are so many theories about them that i think this is the only way to clarify that.

any input based on your experience is welcome.
please comments polite, positive and to the point.

guys who use a vario.
for more details, i started a thread here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Aug 15, 2015 @ 12:46 PM | 5,571 Views
am so happy that i want to tell you that today i went to the field and flew 4 of my sailplanes as long as i wanted as i was by myself and all flew well and landed nicely and got some thermals and there was almost no wind and came back without damage. this was the way it used to be for a long time. that is the idea of flying model airplanes, isn't it?
i have been through a series of radio failures and crashed many times several of my planes, and was not until changed field-and put 1 radio to rest-that things are going the way they were supposed to be, and had been for a long time. not even the moskitos got me!
so it feels good to just go fly and enjoy it.
and summer stil is not over.

so, i wish you all the same.

enjoy while you still can.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 28, 2015 @ 09:36 AM | 5,759 Views
i remember the days before i had access to the internet. whenever i needed some data or product, i had to write a letter, mail it, and wait for the answer or the shipment. it took at least 2 weeks.
then i got a computer and now i just click a few words asking for something, or search for it and i get it right there of after a few hours or days. or order something and pay paypal and is shipped to me and i get in a couple or weeks. it has accelerated my learning astronomically. no long waiting times. the only problem is getting the data in a clear way. so there are several possibilities: sometimes there is no data; others the manuals are written in chinglish. then could be that even in good english, it is not easy to understand, and then sometimes is clear. and no matter what, if in doubt, we may enter whatever forum and request some explanation, and most times we get it in short time.
wonderful times of change.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 26, 2015 @ 09:35 AM | 4,421 Views
just to remember that children listen, even when asleep, comes this funny episode:
i was talking to my daughter in law at the kitchen table, and my grandaughter was there too, apparently reading a book, when the conversation drifted towards cats, as they were considering bringing a cat for their daughter (which they eventually did), so i was explaining to my daughter in law about the retractable claws, and i said that also lyons and tigers had them, when my grandaughter snapped: 'lyons and tigers and bears, oh my!' as Dorothy in 'the wizard of oz' said. so she was listening all while reading. we laughed for a long time. she was so sharp!
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 10, 2015 @ 07:25 AM | 6,146 Views
1 of the main reasons why i keep so many planes, and all in good shape, is that i don't take chances. if windy, i don't risk them. that is, until now. recently it seemed not so windy, but when i arrived at the field it was blowing strong and turbulent. but still i decided to give it a go. and this was a 30 inches wingspan light plane. i never flew it in such conditions-not even close. and flew she did. bouncing and jumping, but landed safely, with almost zero forward speed. not comfortable flying, but controllable.
how could i do this? how could i dare to do this?
well, i happen to have 1 of the new stabilizers, that i tested before in several planes in moderate wind and were so convincing that this time i decided to try it to its limit.
so now am able to fly small planes in windy weather, in small fields near home, and see them flying like way larger planes-although i don't think will try this windy again.
the device includes the receiver, and weighs only 8 grams, so the plane barely feels the extra weight. full range, adjustable response, great instructions and support.
and a forum:
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 03, 2015 @ 11:19 PM | 6,647 Views
back at the nearby park, no snow, neither ice at the lake. better still, the 2 swans are back, although not on the water. perhaps it still is too cold for staying in it.
and some ducks on the water too.
means they are back because it is the time of the year to return, but still colder than what should be?
anyway, it was great to have little wind, so i could try my wings again.
for the past few years the swans have settled for the good weather. it is a great view.
like a post card. and all of them seem to feel comfortable when my planes fly by (maybe because all are electric).
this time i was anxious to try several things. 1 of them a stabilizer, that lets my small planes handle wind like bigger planes.
the other a vario, that i am exploring to detect thermals when it sounds tones.
both worked fine, but takes time to program them to my satisfaction, so am progressing on it. amazing technology at the reach of our hand!
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 17, 2015 @ 02:03 PM | 6,940 Views
yesterday was not so windy and above freezing so went to the park nearby.
the pond was still frozen but there was almost no snow on the grass.
a pleasant time i had.
and even more when in 1 flight, 2 'v' shaped geese formations flew near my plane.
they maneuvered to avoid my plane, otherwise just honking happily.
it was a pleasure to see them again. although not expected so soon.
maybe as the climate is going weirder every year they are disoriented about when to come back i guess.
they usually land on the pond but, as i said, it still is frozen.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 13, 2015 @ 12:44 PM | 6,774 Views
well, after surviving the coldest winter (even colder than the '13, but shorter), and with the snow melting, i noticed that there was almost no wind, so picked up my 2 stock umx radians (that have gyros), went to the nearby park and gave them a try. i just could not resist anymore the urge to fly! it was not too cold, just around freezing, and a slight breeze, so launched the plane, climbed as high as i could still see it and had a great flight, and then at landing catched it. just like if it were spring or summer. then at the 2nd flight i could not believe my eyes: there it was, jumping up into a strong thermal! never caught a thermal near freezing, so was not prepared for it. (perhaps because there are some homes under). i kept enjoying it for a while, but my fingers were getting stiff with the cold so decided to fly it out of the thermal and eventually landed. not much wind, so the gyros could take care of it. just some turbulence near the ground. spring is still around the corner, but this was an opportunity that could not let go away
so, get ready, folks!
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 28, 2015 @ 09:25 AM | 6,165 Views
i have many planes of several types, but the 1 with which i have more fun is the least expensive, and i can fly in places nearby. as close as the park at the back of my home ( i have flown it at my son's street too, where are no trees or obstacles). it is a short walk. the plane is the umx radian from horizon hobby, and is 30 inches wingspan and weighs 43 grams. i keep it assembled so there is no need to do anything else. and it is equiped with the latest advances in electronics. like gyros to stabilize it so it can fly in some wind, like larger planes.
the cost: back in the 70's, a 4 channels radio was $300; now i have the 6 ch orange for $50 ( no servos) and is computarized, so can program many things. even if you add lipo battery ($15) and shipping ($30), it still a bargain. ( i could use nicads, but am using a lipo that needs a charger. i got mine for $70, and use it for charging all my other planes too). and is 2.4, that there is no interference so you can fly even if others are flying too and don't have to worry about checking frequencies or that some1 shoots you down. then add the plane: i got the radian for $100 including shipping and some spares. it comes with a battery and charger and is ready to fly. it is all that you need to fly. then i got some batteries for extra flights, for $1.50 each. i can charge them at least 50 times and get 5 minutes of motor run, but as i use the motor just for climbing and that takes 30 seconds, i get 8 flights per charge. do the maths: for $1.50 i get 50 charges and 8 flights per charge=$1.50/400 flights=.375 cents per flight. that's right: about 1 cent per 3 flights.
so it depends what kind of planes you want to fly, but you can get something like this and, as i said, i am having more fun with it than with anything else.
this it the radian:
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:34 PM | 7,217 Views
the wisdom of purring
since i remember, i had a cat nearby. and he managed to make me happy, just by purring. he seemed to be telling me in his wisdom: we have all that we need to be happy, isn't it?
so, to me, hearing a cat purring reminds me that the things in life that really matter are at the reach of our hand.
the basics that we need to be happy.

for modelers, there are other sounds that make us happy. like the whirl of an electric motor. or the whisper of a prop of an electric plane like the radian. or for others the sound of an engine. that is all that we need to be happy. whatever.

as long as we don't forget what really matters in life, and that frequently we do.

so, enjoy the sound of happiness, whichever you like best.
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 15, 2015 @ 04:01 PM | 7,016 Views
i went to johnson city tn with Stu Weckerly from detroit several times to fly indoor free flight and had the time of our lives. once on our way back on sunday we stopped for lunch at a small town. the houses were kept in good shape, all clean, people friendly. near the restaurant there was a park where there was people having a picnic. benches on the grass, colorful umbrelas, kids playing with balls, baloons, a pond with swans, and the band playing on. just like in the old movies. we had to stay there for a few minutes to soak into that atmosphere of happiness, that we carried with us for a long time.
from time to time i like to open the treasure chest of my memories and bring back that experience. memories are made of this...
Posted by phil alvirez | Dec 09, 2014 @ 09:54 AM | 7,414 Views
how often you have this conversation: a friend asks you if you heard that Jim (or whoever) died? then you say: but i just saw him last week!
then you remember when was last time you saw him.
then you think: i wish i had known that he was going to die, so i could then tell him what i thought about him, right?
it is easy to remember when was last time you saw (or talked to) some1.

but, do you know when is last time you are seeing (or talking to) some1?

if you think about it, then wouldn't you act differently any time you see (or talk to) some1?
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 29, 2014 @ 01:51 PM | 7,307 Views
this is the way i enjoy flying my planes:
since i flew free flight, i enjoyed rubber band powered, and engine powered planes; but most of all, hand launch and towline gliders. are you getting the point?
so when i got into the umx radian, i found myself living more than a dream, more than a fantasy. i carry the plane in the back of my car, and when i go shopping, if the weather seems ok, i drift to the nearby park (that has a pond and swans and the like) and launch my silent magic white thing and live a fantasy. and catching an ocassional thermal is even better! then, catching it and launching again...and on and on.
it is even better than dreaming. even if there are few onlookers, sometimes i see from the edge of my eye a fellow that stops and watches the entire flight and the catch and then he goes back to walking without saying a word. and that, is the most valuable testimony 1 can get. to see some1 feeling the same emotion of watching a silent cloud-like fantasy flying by. beyond chinese tales. not even aladin with his magic lamp had a dream like this. so, there are several ways to enjoy life. this this my way.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 23, 2014 @ 08:12 AM | 7,552 Views
since the beginning, i learned that it is a matter of time-and learning-before i could successfully fly anything. 1st free flight, with hand launch gliders, then towline gliders, then rubber powered, then engines. later control line, r/c.
years later indoor free flight rubber powered. then indoor r/c at the gym.
but with all, the key was: perseverance. takes time to learn whatever you need, to achieve the ultimate goal: to fly your plane.
so, don't give up. the joy of seeing your plane flying is worth the effort.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 21, 2014 @ 08:21 AM | 6,990 Views
from the time you watched a bird flying, or an airplane passing by, when your heart burned with desire of being there as a bird or in an airplane, it could not vanish.
you wanted to be there. then you had the chance to get into an airplane and fly. that feeling, that sensation of moving in 3 dimensions, that could only be achieved, at least partially when swimming under the water, was even stronger than ever. and when you discovered model airplanes, you wanted to fly them too. even if it is not the same, as you see them from the ground. but still somehow you felt as if you were in the airplane, or if you were the airplane. and when you get a new plane, especially if it is your 1st, and want to fly it, the sensation is burning inside you.
and then comes the weather...
bad weather, windy, stormy for days without end! no way to fly. what then?
hard to wait. but there is no other way-or you take a chance and crash it.
hard to keep the balance between passion and patience. but there is no other way.
and now we have the fpv, that thing that lets you see as if you were into the plane, and lets you get dizzy and loose control of where you are and what are you doing.
so many possibilities, so many ideas coming to your mind.
flying is the dream that goes beyond any other.
so, keep dreaming.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 20, 2014 @ 09:30 AM | 6,683 Views
even if i fully agree with 'less is more' and try to do it myself, as a minimalist, i still understand that there are guys who like to go beyond the envelope and have fun doing it. experimenters not only enjoy doing it, but keep bringing new ideas that make our lives better. still, 1 of the wisest thing is to decide when to stop; how far wants to go in that particular endeavor.
so let each 1 have fun his way. you are right, they are right. we have to learn to live our way, and let others live their way. as long as no 1 tries to tell other what to do...
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 17, 2014 @ 12:04 PM | 6,838 Views
recently i had the chance to watch closely 1 of those gigantic propeller blades for windmills (called wind turbines). i was on the road to toronto when we saw it towed by a trailer, and we reached it slowly. i could not believe my eyes how sophisticated it was. then, as we stopped at a road restaurant, the trailer stopped there too, so i could walk back and forth to my leisure. so many details.
and i think there are few chances to have 1 laying down so it could be studied completely. i was just lucky. turbulators, wind deflectors, devices to release static electricity, everything that any could imagine. i have been intrigued by the propeller and have studied it so it was the time of my life. but this is science fiction at hand.
like this:
and if you want details, see here: