Visalia 2012 practice thread - RC Groups
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Sep 12, 2012, 09:56 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

Visalia 2012 practice thread

I hope others contribute their tips and advice in this thread.

As I said in the Sept newsletter several things make the Visalia contest challenging: tight landing zones (i.e. painted circles or boxes) and downwind launches and landings since CVRC can't turn their lanes around. So my focus on practice over the next 3 weeks will address both.

Pretty much all my practice is done with a bungee since you can shoot lots of 1.5 minute flights in a session. I use 50' of the 4 meter Hosemonster rubber and 120' of twine. Works great for landing and low altitude work.

Landing practice

Without landing tapes it's important to land with good lateral control, meaning minimal left-right drift on your final approach. The way I practice for this is to stretch a short tape out (~5 feet) and try to literally hit the tape with every landing. Plus or minus 6" from the tape is good, +-3" is better. First I start with normal (into the wind) landings. After getting comfortable with those then I move the tape for crosswind landings, then finally the last 1/3 of the practice session I'll do downwind landings.

Regarding landing approaches, at the turn to final I get tunnel vision as I try to immediately correct for any wing tilt or heading drift. The longer you take to correct the more you will drift off line.

I'll contribute thoughts on downwind landings after someone else does it first .

Chris B.
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Sep 13, 2012, 10:49 AM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar

You had another very good suggestion. CVRC keeps the pilots back about 10 feet from the landing zone, so it makes sense to practice landings a fair distance from the nail.

Thanks for the specs on your Hi-Start. Mine is about twice those dimensions, so I spend more time setting it up, I must walk twice as far to retrieve it, and I typically practice with 3-minute flights so I am getting in half as many landings. I'll look into making one more geared towards landing practice.

One of my current challenges is skipping after I hit. Yesterday started with a decent breeze that turned into a cross-wind so my ground speed probably went up. There are few things more frustrating than being able to see the mark in the grass where you hit in the mid 90's, only to have the plane end up 3 feet past the nail. I must be coming in too low and fast, possibly taking advantage of some ground effect, so when I apply full down elevator, the plane hits the mark but not at steep enough angle for the skeg to penetrate. I have adjusted the travel to allow greater down elevator but haven't seen any real benefit from this change.

To get a better handle on trying to minimize my airspeed I did a number of flights where I focused on different low-speed passes but I am still looking for the right combo. I also tried keeping camber in when landing as a way to decrease speed and this showed some promise. Today I am going to recheck my CG since my Xplorer really seems to float and indicate lift better with a millimeter or more of camber at all times.

Yesterday I wanted to focus more on the landings so I wasn't using my talking timer. What I found is that the benefit of the timer is that it lets you know when you are hitting your windows during the landing phase, so removing the timing information also removed my ability to properly judge my approach. When I went back to the timer, my landings improved.

Chris, could you describe any settings you currently have for landings, especially any that give you better control of the aircraft speed?
Sep 13, 2012, 03:45 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

Good reminder about practicing well behind the landing spot in prep for Visalia.

Re: ground skipping, if more elevator authority isn't helping you "nose over" better then assuming you have a decent skeg your ground speed at the LZ is probably too fast. Not sure without watching but that's my guess. If I remember right your flaps don't drop more than maybe 65-70 degrees. Given your somewhat heavy X3.5 you need all the flap you can get. Lacking more deflection you have to drop them (much) sooner in the pattern. Here's when I use flaps:

I fly a classic landing pattern (figure below). By the time I cross A and start the downwind leg I've already used flaps to get my altitude and speed into the right range. It's rare when I don't "ride the flaps" for the entire pattern. On the turn to final (C) I sometimes crank in more flap (unless it's windy) if the altitude is too high and then back off after a few seconds. If I do it right the last 2/3 of final is mostly maintaining heading and wings level. Key point: the slower I can fly over the LZ the more reaction time I buy for when to go nose down. That's my .02.

As far as settings for landings, I keep the elevator sensitive in land mode so even when my X4.0 is crawling in over the LZ at just above stall I still have enough elev authority to push it in. The other thing I do is intentionally put in enough down elev in landing mode (flap stick) to force a downward glide slope for the entire landing pattern. Two reasons: (1) it "reminds" me to bleed altitude* in the pattern unless I override with up elev stick, and (2) it makes the final nose-down move in the LZ easier since just letting the elev stick snap to neutral gives lots of nose down. i.e. in the landing pattern I'm usually pulling the elev stick to hold off the landing down elev mix. This may seem like a minor tweak but I have to admit it's a pretty big help to landings.

* and thus plane energy which can translate to excessive approach speed.

Chris B.
Sep 15, 2012, 04:41 PM
Hey Chris,

Is the Hi-Start you use for practice a Dynaflite Heavy Duty Up-Start, or something you put together? I'd like to re-tube an old hi-start that I have and am curious about the spec on the tubing you have. Is it 3/16" ID, 1/16" W, 5/16" OD? Or something heavier?


Rick R.
Sep 15, 2012, 05:04 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Rick, I use 50' of this Hosemonster 4M rubber. A bit pricey at $105/50ft (+ship) but it works nice. The twine is #18 mason twine available at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.

Some guys say it's better to use mono line instead of twine but I disagree: red or yellow twine is way more visible on the ground in grass, weeds, etc. and the amount of energy you can store in 120' of stretched mono is ridiculously low unless you over-stretch your bungee; even then it's negligible.

Hope this helps.
Chris B.
Sep 16, 2012, 07:01 PM
Registered User
I'll chime in and say that I also have 50 ft of the Hosemonster 4 meter but I have 250 ft of line attached and I stretch the bungie a bit farther that Chris does. I get a good high launch and have skied out many times with it. Actually I have 50 more feet of the 4m and another 250 ft of line. When I put that all together in one long HS I can launch every bit as high as with the winch provided there is at least a little breeze. Naturally, in that mode you get a serious physical workout over a number of launches! My point is 50 feet of that stuff is very versatile. Use it for(1) landing practice and short hikes, (2) good altitude and medium hikes, or add another 50 ft to launch to the moon, long hikes and strenuous workout!
Oct 01, 2012, 09:24 PM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
This afternoon I made a 5' landing tape to replace the full-length tape I made last year. Tomorrow I'll find out if this tightens up my landings, or just saves me time not having to straighten the old one.
Oct 01, 2012, 10:03 PM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
I was just perusing the Fall Fest thread and found these posts on the landing zones:

"The landing zone will be circles defined by LSF guidelines with a smaller bonus circle in the center. Refer to AMA Radio Control Soaring rule 12.4 which prohibits contestants from standing over the safety line. Center of the circles will be 15' from line. We do plan to have another mid-pack flyoff."

"Landing area will be defined by a white line that makes a rectangle. Circles will be painted inside the rectangle. We will have 12 targets"

"The Fall Fest will have a safety line that you will have to stand behind just as it was last year. You will have to land inside the landing area to get your flight time. If any part of the plane comes to rest across the safety line you will get a zero flight for that round. If you hit anyone with your plane you get a zero. The landing points that are available are 5, 10, and 25 points."
Oct 01, 2012, 11:19 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Good info Aric, thanks for posting. I went out again this AM and did more landings and low-alt work. Practice conditions this last 2 weeks have been surprisingly calm with maybe 5mph breezes max. This may be just right though since the Visalia forecast is for the same. We'll see.
Oct 02, 2012, 01:21 AM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
They mentioned LSF landing guidelines, which is a 1.5 meter radius for level II. That would be an 80 or better on our club tapes for 5pts. I'm surprised that they don't use a marked landing tape with a nail since that is far more accurate than painted circles. Any thoughts on what the other radii might be?

It looks like the landing area will probably be the grassed in area up to the safety line.

I'm going to use my old landing tape as a 15-foot safety line for practice. I will also try both lining up directly behind the target along with standing to the side so I can see the final glide slope.

I'm not sure how this works.... "We do plan to have another mid-pack flyoff."
Oct 02, 2012, 01:30 AM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
Here is the weather link that I am using...
Oct 02, 2012, 01:53 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Good wx link. As to circle details, I wouldn't worry about the outer circle spacing. For practice just try to hit the center while standing 15' behind the LZ. Closer is better

The mid-pack thing means that if your final score falls in the middle of all the contestants you get to be in a special fly-off. Pretty fun to watch (and fly in).
Oct 02, 2012, 05:28 PM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
I'm liking my new shorter 20-point landing tape. Ten flights today and my lowest landings were a pair of 85's. I still have some nylon tape left over and may make a 10-point tape and give it a try.

Next year I'll offer to CD our September contest and propose the same guidelines used at CVRC regarding targets and safety lines so we can use our event as a warm-up.
Oct 02, 2012, 05:38 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Originally Posted by awilmunder
Next year I'll offer to CD our September contest and propose the same guidelines used at CVRC regarding targets and safety lines so we can use our event as a warm-up.
Cool idea. Well, since I was voted selected railroaded as the VP Contests for next year, I'll give you the Sept contest!

No practice for me today, spent time finalizing the setup for the X3.8ST Lite. Final AUW 71 oz at CG 115mm. It's amazing how I learn some new twist with the SD-10G on every new plane. This generation of radios are uber-flexible almost to a fault.

Maybe I didn't mention this yet but I'm selling my full carbon red X3.8 at Visalia. Somebody's gonna get a nice deal.

Chris B.
Oct 04, 2012, 12:06 AM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
Galen's post today about the landing targets makes sense only if the circles are 3-meters and 1.5 meters across. This is different than LSF which uses a 3-meter radius for level I and 1.5 for level II.

During practice today, I tried both lining up on a safety line directly behind the tape and standing about 8 feet to the side. Being on the line makes it easier to line up the target, but the angle makes it easier to judge when to dive for the target.... stuff to work on...

I am heading down tomorrow after lunch so I won't have to leave at 5am Friday and arrive stressed for Friday's ALES event. Not looking forward to the 4+ hours of driving.

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