Radio Carbon Art Handlaunch Master Class 1 DVD Review

George Voss explores the latest "How To" DVD from Radio Carbon Art on hand or discus-launch gliders, featuring Bruce Davidson!



Media:High Quality DVR
Format:DVD from Digital Master
Packaging:Standard DVD Case w/Color Artwork
Run Time~ 1 Hour 50 minutes
Available and selected dealers

RC soaring is challenging regardless of which class size airframe, but hand launch flying is by far the most demanding. It takes stamina, physical technique and other skills not normally used in winch launch or hi-start launch soaring.

Bruce has been a Nats winner multiple times, and his knowledge and skill are the basis of this DVD. Bruce is very knowledgeable and gets his point across in a way so that even a novice modeler can benefit from it. While this DVD is about hand launch class planes, the majority of the information crosses over into other size airplanes as well.


This third title in the Master Class series, Hand Launch Master Class with Bruce Davidson, is nicely packaged with a full color label and standard DVD case. Like the previous two, I was entertained and learned several new techniques while reaffirming many old ones too.

Viewing Requirements:

ēThe DVD is an "All Region" DVD and should play on most current computers and DVD players.

Bruce uses the Momentum Model Technologies Sirius sailplane.


Break It!

Set the CG

While not a chapter of its own, it is arguably the most important setup item with an airplane. This is the static portion of setting the CG; the dynamic CG is checked during the flying portion. Bruce gives some good advice about how to get the proper CG and make sure it doesnít shift during flight.


In a nutshell, Decalage is the difference between the neutral angle of the wing and stab. Typically, high performance planes use what is called ďzero-zeroĒ meaning, the wing is at zero, and the stab is set at zero. While not all planes are set up this way, unless the manufacturer recommends something different, this is a good place to start.

Throwing Blade Tips

Bruce covers the history of throwing blades in DLG and what is the hot ticket today. Bruce also adds some color to the peg so itís easy to see during the last chapterís discussion. Mounting position, strength and several other areas of the throwing blade are covered in this chapter.

Radio Setup

Each person has his own flying style and radio setup, but the majority of us use the same basic mixes. Depending on your radio and aircraft choice, the amount of throws and mixes should be the same from aircraft to aircraft. Bruce recommends setting up each DLG in exactly the same way so he is comfortable with each plane. He uses a minimum of mixes and keeps the mixes on a minimum number of switches. This is excellent advice: The more workload required of the pilot to fly the transmitter, the more it takes away from his ability to concentrate on the plane in flight.

Aileron/Rudder Mix

Again, Bruce recommends keeping things simple. He likes aileron/rudder and rudder/aileron mix and he has it on all the time. There is no switch to turn it on or off. Donít be confused with the two. Aileron/rudder mix means that the rudder is mixed to the aileron stick, and rudder/aileron means the rudder stick is mixed to the ailerons. This will become noticeably important when you see the ďRudderless MethodĒ Chapter.

Snap Flap

Snap flap is used to create extra lift when applying elevator. As you pull the elevator stick back, the wing cambers itself to gain extra lift. Bruce explains in more detail why and when itís used


Due to the low airspeed at the apex of launch, DLGs typically need a lot of ďdownĒ elevator to bring the tail up to the wingsí level during this phase of launch. Bruce uses a spring-loaded stab so the servo only pulls one direction.


DLG is sort of the blood sport of soaring, and itís not unusual for the contest modeler to have 3 or more aircraft heading into the soaring season. If each of the planes are set up the same as far as direction of travel goes, even if you have the wrong program installed and you launch, only the smaller trim issues will be the difference, possibly saving an airplane.

Center of Gravity, Dive Test

While many people still argue about the validity of the dive test, it does give you an indication of where your CG is. If you put your plane into a 45 degree dive, neutralize the stick, and the plane quickly raises the nose, the plane has too much nose weight in it. Why does this happen? As the speed increases, the static force of the nose weight is overcome by the dynamic force of the tail. If you have to carry some up elevator to fly normally or the plane is set up with say a minus 3 degrees in the tail, itís a sign that you are using too much nose weight.

Does this mean that itís ďwrong?Ē Itís probably just not the most efficient. On the other end of the scale, if you put the plane in the dive and it tucks, then you need to add some nose weight. For most people, if the plane slowly rises from the dive and in all other areas of normal flight it flies well, then the CG is good. This is a personal preference issue; some people will like planes that are slightly more nose heavy than others. Itís definitely a ďfeelĒ issue but if you are way off of either end, you are giving up performance.

Launch Mechanics

This chapter starts with a Bruce demonstrating a golf swing. What does that have to do with launching radio control sailplanes? Everything! You are trying to achieve is a consistent technique. Smoothness, repeatability and follow through are all covered in this chapter

Common Mistakes

The elbow and follow through are the first of several common mistakes Bruce discusses in this chapter.

Just Throw It

This chapter is really the meat of the DVD. Paul and Bruce spend several minutes and multiple shots and angles demonstrating the proper launch technique. Probably the most revealing views were shot from above where you can see Bruce in action. The lower level shots are great for seeing the angle of the plane during launch. The overhead shots show the body mechanics and as Bruce describes it, winding and unwinding the spring.

The Glove

Launch comfort is the reason for the glove. Bruce covers the evolution of which gloves have been used and which ones are currently the best.

After Release

Safety is the key to launching. Always launch into the wind or you may end up face to face with another modeler or launching through another model. Bruce discusses the science/art of getting the optimum launch

Lift on Launch

There are visual differences when flying in lift or sink. Recognizing this on launch can help the modeler get better launches by staying away from or leaving sink early, or staying with the trajectory of the launch because the plane is climbing much more noticeably than normal.

Wind Effects

Utilizing the mini-DLG, Bruce discusses launch presets, over rotating and other effects the wind will cause the plane demonstrate. Itís up to the pilot to recognize what the plane is doing, how the wind is affecting it and make corrections as necessary.

Launch Clinic

The Perfect Launch, pushing over too late and many other launch issues are demonstrated by Bruce. Again, decalage is discussed as it pertains to launch issues.

Turn and Burn

If your thermal is behind you, you donít launch downwind, but instead do whatís called a ďturn and burn.Ē Bruce also demonstrates a second method of getting downwind which is basically an Immelman turn.

Finding Lift

Using the Sirius and the streamer mounted to his antenna, Bruce launches a multitude of flights in light lift. Bruce makes one of the best recommendations a modeler can make: In light air, itís best not to move the sticks much. Each surface deflection causes drag, taking away time from the flight. This is a meat and potatoes chapter that not only DLG pilots will appreciate.

Rudder Mix

Another tidbit of wisdom Bruce discusses is that we should make changes past the point where they are good. If you change the CG, for example, by taking out some weight, and you think itís good but donít take out any more, you may not be at the most efficient spot. Itís best to go beyond what is good and then come back to what is best. This advice alone is worth the price of the video.

The Rudderless Method

Many new competition DLGs are coming out with fixed rudders. For the competition pilot, Bruce gives his opinion on why he thinks they are a good idea and how to deal with coordinated turns without using a rudder. I donít think this will fly for larger planes, but for DLG this may be the hot ticket.


Bruce spends time launching and flying so you can see his launch technique, and he discusses his thermal search pattern. This could have been a boring chapter with someone just launching and landing, but Bruce is always giving gems of advice to help us become better modelers.

Energy Management

The ability to get the plane back to your hand while maximizing flight time is proper energy management. Bruce describes the best ways to maximize energy management regardless of the wind conditions.

Wing Loading: Good

There are proper times to ballast an airplane, and during practice is the time to find out what amount of weight works best for the conditions. Even though we donít have a combustion engine in the nose to help us to move around the sky, ballast can allow us to move around the sky faster than a lighter plane. We can use this extra speed to get to thermals that are farther away and ride thermals farther downwind and know we have the ability to get back

Dead air time

At the end of the day, thermals are weak to nonexistent, yet contest directors still make us fly. What can you do to optimize dead air time? Nailing the launch, flying at the proper speed, not moving the sticks unless needed and simply maximizing the time are the answers. Bruce makes this look easy while working toward a 2 minute max in dead air.

Practice: The out and in

When the air is dead, working what is known as the ďout and inĒ is good practice. Contests demand quick turnarounds. This means launching, meeting a task and getting the plane back in the air as quickly as possible for the next task. I watched Bruce do an out and in in 3 seconds or less. This is what it takes to win DLG contests, and Bruce and Radio Carbon Art show you how itís done.


Itís not only entertaining, there is a plethora of information on aircraft setup, air reading skills, launch techniques and much more in the Hand Launch Masters Class 1 DVD. Though directed at the Hand Launch crowd, most of the information applies to all sizes of sailplanes. Bruce Davidson is a very knowledgeable and appropriate personality for this subject and gets his points across by the use of both verbal and demonstrative examples. Overall, this DVD is a winner and should be considered required viewing if you want to increase you knowledge about Hand Launch gliders and increase your contest placing.


  • informative
  • entertaining


  • None

Hereís a sneak peek of whatís inside Handlaunch Tech Lab:

  • Setting Up Rudderless Planes
  • Prepping Hollow Molded Wings
  • Installing 2.4 Radio Set Ups
  • Installing RDS Systems
  • How To Use Lithium Power
  • Spring Return Elevators
  • Upgrading Older Planes
  • Lipo Charging
  • Range Checking
  • And Much More
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 19, 2009 at 05:13 PM..
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Nov 19, 2009, 01:55 PM
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gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
This is the review of Pauls newest DVD. Look for the companion DVD, HL Tech Lab review soon! George
Nov 19, 2009, 02:04 PM
Registered User
Paul Naton's Avatar
You can get the Master Class and the new Tech Lab at a discount if you buy them together:

Thanks for the nice review George!

Paul Naton

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