First Solo Sky Scooter flight on 19 April 2003 (with assistance on the hand launch)
After 20 or so instructor assisted flights beginning late last summer (2002) I managed three solo flights last Saturday, 19 April 2003 at the Voice of America (VOA) park near Cincinnati, OH. With a solid hand launch by John, who was making his own 2003 debut at VOA, my Sky Scooter Pro 1 was skyward into a 5-10 mph wind. After circling the field at 2-or-3 mistake high altitude for a couple of minutes I managed to glide in for an OK landing, narrowly missing a tree in the process. I have John to thank for warning me to avoid that tree.
After John flew his Graupner Terry, he tossed my SS up again for my second flight. I got a little mixed up with the plane coming directly towards me (I still have trouble with this) and almost stuffed it but managed to save it and gain altitude for more circling around and a butt-ugly loop. The larger capacity battery was installed for this flight so I was able to putz around the sky a little longer, perhaps 4 or 5 minutes before setting up to land (well away from that darn tree this time). The landing went OK, probably due to an unusual patch of ultra-smooth air that appeared near the ground just when I needed it most. I barely had to move the control stick as it settled down into the grass-it practically landed itself.
By this time the field was getting pretty busy, with perhaps a dozen or so autos and a few more model airplanes strewn about. A couple of guys brought their hotliners out and gave us a real nice show. A fellow named Frank came up to me and asked about converting some of his wet models into E-power. I quickly pointed out that I am new to this sport and he would probably be better off asking the Pope about motor/battery combos than me. Since my SS was practically RTF out of the box there was little advice I could offer regarding e-power conversions.
After announcing to the growing crowd to "take cover-run for your cars, a new flyer is launching," it was time for another go. Another great hand launch from John and I was airborn once again. I don't remember too much about this flight except concentrating to avoid flying through the sun and in turn losing orientation of the plane. After alerting everyone of my status prior to this flight I was a bit self-conscious but I tried to not let it bother me. When setting up to land I found the air somewhat choppy now. The plane came in short of where I wanted but managed to land without bending or braking anything.
Immediately after landing I heard someone approach me on the field to ask what motor I had in my SS. It turned out this flyer also had a SS but with a bigger motor. I stood by while he flew his SS and marveled how good he could make it roll. After he landed I went over his set-up and took a few notes for when I am ready to practice rolls. Speaking of set-ups, here is mine:
Sky Scooter Pro 1, direct drive, proportional speed control, 3-channel radio system. Modifications are: 6.3x3 Graupner CAM folding prop (Hobby Lobby sells these for use on the Graupner Terry), stock motor (water break-in, reattached with silicone caulk), plastic spoon airscoop for motor with holes cut into fuselage, blenderm hinge tape used on the ailerons (to seal the gaps between the stock hinges) and elevator bottom, Azarr antenna glued along the dorsal fin to eliminate the trailing wire, and a small ramp made from a trash bag tie to prevent the folding prop from striking the landing keel. The control rods are installed according to the manual-inside hole on the aileron servo, second hole from the end on the aileron control horn. Same thing for the elavator-inside hole on the servo and second hole from the end on the elevator horn. The TX trims are centered but all clevis settings were adjusted by the instructor.
Two batteries are used, the stock 7-cell 600 mah NiCd and an 8-cell Radio Shack 1600 mah NiMh. Both batteries work well and utilize Anderson Power Pole connectors. I do not use the battery charger included with the SS but instead use a Dymond Super Turbo for all batteries, including the 600 mah NiCd pack I put into the TX.
So how do I feel? Great!! I have always wanted to fly r/c since I was a kid in the 70's, but at that time the price of the radio components alone was out of my reach. Back then I just flew control line (CL) and free flight (FF) but got in trouble once when my FF Cox PT-19 (converted CL with a straightened fin and rigged elevator) flew into the side of the neighbors house. I'm so glad the radio prices have dropped while at the same time performance is improved (gold sticker regs). I had loads of fun learning to fly this SS and look forward to getting my Graupner Terry airborn next.
I have been asked if the SS is a good trainer. Besides my SS I have flown a GWS park flyer-type (with the foam fuselage) and a Push-E-Cat (PEC). Around here we are blessed most of the time with 5-10 mph variable winds. In these conditions the SS and PEC performed well but the GWS was somewhat twitchy. I preferred the SS over the PEC in mild winds even though the PEC appears to be more stable in roll. The PEC or GWS would be my choice in windless conditions or 0-5 mph winds. The SS is the least stable in roll of the 3 but responds the quickest to small wind gusts. In short the SS was a good trainer FOR ME, with the conditions I had to work with.
I'm sure most beginners have heard this, but with the right instructors you can start out with any of these 3 and dozens of other designs as well. In my case the instructors never let me do anything unsafe or stupid. At the same time they challenged me bit-by-bit to make every lesson count. Don't go at it alone unless you really, really, really have to.
I really owe my instructors a debt of gratitude, who NEVER asked for anything in return. Mainly I need to thank Don Belfort and Don Leitz from the VOA Flyers Club. Also lending me a hand were Eric Chandler from the WORKS club and Ben Martin from the Wright Flyers club. One other guy helped me from the WORKS club but unfortunately I can't remember his name at the moment. I am so lucky to have these resources on tap.
Bottom Line: I am hooked on r/c planes and look forward to many more flights.
A bit long winded, but hope you all enjoyed this.
First Sky Scooter Solo Flight 19 April 2003
Thanks tic and rclark for your kind words.
I also forgot to acknowledge Roy Oetting who let me do some take-offs and landings with his GWS park flyer just a week prior to my solo flight. Roy lurks here on E-Zone so please accept my apologies for not mentioning you in my first post here. Your superb patience and guidance were greatly appreciated.
Here are a few more stats that I neglected to provide in the first post. SS Pro 1 weight (airframe only with mods listed above) is 13.50 oz. SS Pro 1 with stock 7-cell battery is 19.25 oz (battery weighs 5.75 oz). SS Pro 1 with 8-cell RS battery is 21.1 oz (battery weighs 7.60 oz).
The winds will be down tomorrow (they are 15 – 20 mph today) so I’d better get the car packed now.
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