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Jan 24, 2013, 12:24 PM
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My model aviation history

Model collection chronology

I made this page to show how I progressed from early age till present in model aviation. For past models the words are final, for current and future models amendments and complements will be added as the situation evolves.
Latest published updates:
25/1/2013 : inserted links in text to dedicated build logs where available
21/5/2013 : inserted appropriate pictures to the text portions
23/7/2013 : added new end after changes in the fleet
11/9/2013 : added video movies of B25, Spitfire and F16 flights
31/7/2013: added winter 2013-2014 message
31/7/2014: added summer 2014 message
13/11/2015: added year 2015 model activities
8/2/2017: added year2016 model activities
8/1/2018: added year 2017 model activities
8/1/2019: added year 2018 model activities

It all started early sixties when my dad offered me 0,8cm3 Cox powered plastic Curtiss Helldiver. With neither of us knowing how to fly, and his perseverance of self-teaching on an abandoned parking lot, led to many short hops all terminating in catastrophe. I hardly had the occasion to try the handle on this control line aircraft, but it triggered an interest in aviation and model flying, that would never disappear throughout the rest of my life.

There was a model club at our school and I joined them. That’s how I learned to fly on the schoolgrounds (with the permission of the director), and build balsa wood models in a hobby room in the school cellar. With the little money we had purchasing kits was more of an exception, and we often copied designs we saw pictures of in catalogues. Quality of build was very poor, and repairs rudimental, but getting those things of the ground was already a big challenge. This was the self-designed 0.49 cox powered flying wing I learned to fly with in 1965

The few interested students and a school intendant were very enthusiast so our collection of fliers quickly grew, this picture shows the variety of types we used.

If a person bought a kit of a design, we copied the patterns before it was assembled so we could reproduce it cheaply as a scratch build. This is a picture of our flight line on a school free afternoon. My Grisby FTS4 is one of those copies that flew very well on a 3,5cc engine.

Piper cub NC10451 was my first expensive kit (Sig? powered by the same Webra? engine) and flew well despite a serious wing wrap problem caused by irregular doping. That engine had a throttle and I flew with a third cable to control that, allowing me to taxi, and make many takeoffs and landings or touch and go’s during a single flight. My love for scale models (and piper cubs) was born.

One day a student slipped during playtime and the director got tired of seeing his nice pavements impregnated by resin oil dripping from our engines. The cleaning ladies also had been complaining about fine sawdust deposits all over the cellar, and the strong smell of dope often hanging around. We got banned from using school facilities and as such pedaled miles on my bicycle pulling self-made cart to the old world trade 58 fairground, the rendezvous place for most Brussels model flyers. I got to know many new pilots and they taught me aerobatics. With some savings I bought a crashed second hand Giant Stuntmaster with a 6cc engine. My repairs were too heavy and the plane had lost most of its qualities but for me it was an impressive 1 meter wingspan (considered giant in those times) machine that provided me many hours of fun.

I then abandoned model flying due to lack of time, because I had the opportunity to start soaring with real gliders. In 1972 I spent a year in Enid Oklahoma for UPT (class 73-04) and picked up my old hobby again as soon as I had my own single room. I built 3 successful models of own design and gave them to friends when I returned to Belgium. My room often was a mess and the cleaning ladies received instructions not to touch anything, and only clean the bathroom and kitchen.

A couple of years later I finally earned sufficient money to afford radio controlled models. I bought a state of the art Kraft 6-channel transmitter and assembled a popular Belgian trainer called Westerly. It had no ailerons but I connected the rudder to the right stick, and the nose wheel steering to the left stick, in order to train my fingers and reflexes towards later aileron controlled models. I taught myself to fly and had a few crashes, the repairs forced me to replace the nice green tinted windows with solid painted wood. I cannot remember how that model came to an end or if I sold it, but at one time I had bought a second hand Kwik-fly mark3 in a store in Eindhoven. I had upgraded to OS Max 10cc engines on aerobatic airplanes and soon got the hang of things. Unfortunately I crashed it when during an outside loop I forgot to retard the throttle on top. The plane kind of disintegrated in hundreds of pieces which I all had to collect from our main runway, not wanting to be responsible for FOD (Foreign Object Damage) troubles for the real aircraft.

Around that time I often flew with Belgium stationed US personnel and I bought some nice second hand planes from them. I cannot remember the brand, but that Strikemaster was a real great plane to yank around the sky with a K&B40 engine. I perfected my skills with it and soon felt confident to pick up my old love for scale models. Next move was a bold one, I purchased a second hand (Dave Platt?) T28 Trojan with Rom-air retracts and swapped it’s grey paint for an attractive Republic of Korea scheme. That definitely was the kind of models I enjoyed flying as scale as possible and I never crashed it.

My flying skills had grown so much in a few years, I was ready for anything, and instead of buying second hand, decided to start building my first true scale model, a replica of a PA 18 I also flew for real at a nearby Aeroclub. Winter 1978 sawdust spread around the garage again.

When it finally was finished it was a real beauty, and difficult to differentiate from the real aircraft when photographed from some angles. Taxiing was most realistic on those bouncing inflatable balloon tires. I had equipped it with a tailhook in order to tow banners, but never did.

In 1979 I got married and we put all our time, efforts and money in building a house in a nearby town. The birth of a daughter caused me to decide to sell all my model stuff and this 180cm span Piper with K&B40 engine (correct power to weight ratio for the real one) was bought by Flip Avonds, who later three became scale World Champion and successful designer and marketer for the well-known F15, F104, Rafale and Fouga Magister scale Jets

Model flying remained dormant for a few decades, but after a divorce, being retired and making a few very drastic changes in my life, selling the house and living in a small apartment, the model flying microbe caught me again. Summer 2010 while attending the annual Pampa Model Flyer jet show I stumbled along a German vendor who sold an infrared coax helicopter for a mere 25 euro. Back home flying it around the kitchen and living room it bought back memories from the seventies when I sold all my rc airplanes to invest in a house. After a week I realized the shortcomings of that heli and ordered a Nine Eagles solo pro, with proper tail rotor, more challenging to fly but more rewarding. A month later I discovered an rc club in my town, became member and told them I wanted to pick up my old hobby. The club president (deceased since) sold me his used 150cm Graupner electro junior powered glider, with folding prop, ailerons, elevator and rudder and modified with flaps, but after just a couple of flights I got the hang of it and decided I wanted a real aircraft again to practice takeoff and landings instead of hand launches.

My choice felt on the 140 cm Multiplex Funcub, a design sufficiently benign to pardon my beginners mistakes, but with ailerons and flaps offering me a range of flight maneuvers from basic till aerobatic, with precision landing capabilities as a bonus. I painted that airplane to roughly represent my former machine, and welcomed the exchange from 27mhz, balsa, dirty gas engines and dope, to clean foam electric powered 2,4ghz ARF technology. A detailed build and flying log can be found on a dedicated page on this blog so I won’t go any deeper on this page. By spring 2011 I started exercising all the maneuvers that had to be flown to obtain the Belgian rc license. In that club in Hasselt nobody had a license so I had no idea how precise that program had to be executed and was very meticulous about the degree of perfection. That summer I made an appointment with an examiner at another club. It was very busy on that field and I wasn’t used to that but I passed my test with brio. When I questioned the examiner (European quicky 500 race rc medal winner) about what I had to exercise to obtain the instructor rating (so I could train other own club members), he told me what I had demonstrated already was an overkill and he would submit and sign all the necessary papers for the federation. A few weeks later both licenses were in the postbox, all thanks to the Funcub versatility. I had quickly reacquainted my former skills wanted to progress in steps towards my goal of scale EDF (Electric Ducted Fan) models. I therefore thought a sleek flying wing with elevons and powerful would make a good transition. I found that combination in the Multiplex Xeno, powered by an expensive but very performant Multiplex tuning set. I had seen it fly at our club, but it was difficult to follow at height, I therefore choose a much darker color scheme on top, with wide white flashes at the bottom. Instead of applying the fit decals, I hand painted the decorations in a contrasting Silver.

The Xeno can be fold along the middle of the fuselage and the vertical stabilizers are removable without any tools, making it easy to take along on holiday. The power unit behind the cockpit can be exchanged for a kit included aerodynamic fairing, the Xeno becoming a slope glider within seconds. The Himax 2816-1220kv 2500w engine swings a folding 9x6 pusher prop and is capable of propelling this elegant flying wing straight up to (re)gain altitude. A compact 3s950 battery allows for plenty of flight time, even without cutting the engine for soaring. With a span of 124cm and weight of 700gr for the powered setup, the 20gr/dm2 make it a very good glider, and without spoilers this sleek design can be a challenge to land in confined areas. Launching the model can be done by inserting three fingers in dedicated recesses in the belly, but care had to be taken to get hit by the propeller, but so far I haven’t seen anybody hurt. Only two servo’s control this design, but unfortunately the control rods protrude from the bottom instead of top of the wing, making it necessary to inspect them carefully after each (belly)landing. On my transmitter I selected the elevon mixing function but also programmed 35% aileron differential to counter adverse yaw. Directional stability is poor on this model and you see the glider waggle with a combination of turbulence and slow speed. Minimum speed in thermals have to be continuously adjusted by pitch trim changes. At higher speeds this model is rock steady, and is a good trainer for adapting to the flying qualities of swept or delta winged EDF model fighters. I’ve flown it around 50 times and with the correct conditions managed a few half hour flights, being able to keep up in thermals with sleek high performance traditional gliders. I usually come in earlier for landing because tracking the model (especially during aerobatics or in high far away thermals) is a must and sometimes it is difficult to associate the sight of the aircraft with its correct attitude. I have it for sale since long time, but it generates few interest whatever the price. I don’t fly it much because I’m not strong enough to launch it in the air (with a transmitter pult on my belly) and don’t want others risk their fingers doing it for me. A few times a year when I expect good thermals and sufficient strong guys on the field I take it along to maintain my proficiency on gliders.

Having flown the Dutch DBAF (Duke of Brabant Air Force) B25 during a couple of years I was very excited when FMS brought out a relatively scale foam version of that iconic light bomber when I still was flying out of the Hasselt club. Their recently created 80x4metres crushed stone runway was a serious improvement within the grass area we had to share with a dogclub and sheep herders, but narrow to land on during crosswind and not sufficiently flat for smooth operation of delicate retractable geared scale models with small diameter wheels. One of the club members managed to operate an FMS B25 from the grass, but soon it was hanging on the ceiling for decoration due to landing gear and geardoor problems. I nevertheless purchased one of those large new boxes but had no intentions to fly it soon. I was happy modifying it to conform the DBAF aircraft I flew in its end of 20th century livery, with invasion stripes for added visibility and markings of 320 (Dutch) squadron operating the aircraft on behalf of the RAF during WW2. Because I wanted my model to be similar to the aircraft I flew (in fact a TB25 training model without gun turrets in disguise), I modified it before painting it by hand. At that stage I already was very happy to possess a realistic model, but it was a far cry from what I would be capable of producing a few years later. I had no intention of risking that realization operating it from an inadequate field and me afraid not to have gained sufficient proficiency in smooth landings with a twin engine model bomber. When the local store became bankrupt, I was able to purchase the model on the ceiling for a good price (intended for spares), but a close inspection home revealed that model was in relatively good condition except for the landing gears. I now had two Mitchells, one battered original Tondelayo, the other a replica of Loty’s II.

I came up with the idea of modifying that plane with a strong fixed gear to act as a trainer for the retractable gear version I had recently completed. All landing gear doors got separated from their hinges, servo’s and sequencer removed, individual retract boxes completely removed and replaced by preassembled custom cut strong foam blocks with sandwiched 4mm piano wire gear legs, held in the compartments with Velcro, just as the (closed) gear doors now forming the lower part. The main landing gear legs were positioned much more forward, as on the real Mitchell. On the FMS kit the main gears retract forward, necessitating the gear legs to be positioned well after the CG, considerably lengthening the takeoff roll and eliminating any possibility to execute Doolittle type take offs. On the real aircraft all gears retract backwards. The kit’s wheels are also much too small, and I replaced them with larger wheels capable of operating from grass if necessary. Expecting involuntary excursions in the high gradd bordering or narrow runway, I installed a heavy duty very strong servo to activate the nose wheel steering in conjunction with the twin rudders. I choose to decorate the refurbished model in the later DBAF scheme, as operated by 18 (Dutch) squadron in the far east during WW2. This not only necessitated removing the top turret, but also the 4 guns besides the cockpit, and the waist guns. I again hand painted the unique nose art and was satisfied of the looks of my new trainer, forming an attractive matching pair.

An experienced club member took her up for the maiden and was surprised at the huge pitch changes associated with power changes. Lack of engine down trust caused the model to shoot straight up following power application during a go around. After I mixed in a whopping 30% down elevator on the throttle movement no pitch changes were noticeable anymore. Flying it with 40% expo on the ailerons, 25 on the elevator and 30% on the rudder (with 15% aileron rudder mix) it behaved very much as the real aircraft (I was FAA ATP type rated). I was surprised how easy and docile that (model) twin flew and quickly got the hang of it. It’s no sight, but that FMS bomber makes loops and rolls as any other FMS 140mm fighters. I’m sure I made about 200 landings with that plane, the positioning of the wheels allowing me to perform touch and go’s without lowering the nosewheel on the runway, or holding the airplane in aerodynamic braking long after touching down, very realistic. Look at this Doolittle takeoff picture !

With this B25 I learned to fly scale, and I even went that far as to fly the exact show the DBAF flew with it at various shows all over Europe, including the impressive 120° bank reversal towards the public. The 3s3300 battery was a tight fit but gave her about 9 minutes of flight. End of summer 2012 that second hand battery (it was in a Multiplex Funcopter I received from somebody) must have been 4 years old when one day on the new busy field I made a go-around because I was catching up on a 3m Piper in finals, but couldn’t make a short pattern because a few guys performed aerobatics in front of us. During the ensuing long upwind leg, I noticed my Mitchel didn’t climb anymore, but the noise of other petrol airplanes and a ducted fan prevented me from hearing my own airplane. I already was far away when I tried to turn back, but because of the outbound vector and distance I had no idea of the speed and that must have been very low already. As soon as I started the turn, she dropped a wing and must have entered a spin from which I was unable to recover due to lack of altitude. The damage seemed very moderate but to me that plane had fulfilled its trainer career. The new smooth tarmac runway allowed me to operate the retractable gear B25, which was much more visible thanks to the invasion stripes, and looks better in the air with the gear in its closed wells. I now use it mainly for display training, and avoid unnecessary touchdown to save the delicate landing gear. Sarinah got dismantled and resides at the attic providing plenty of spare parts for the splendid Lotys II if needed.

Some video shots of displays I exercise with a modified FMS Spitfire TR9 two seater and the B25, during summer 2013
Spit and mitchell flights (4 min 36 sec)

Back to 2011 in the old club for a while. I purchased a Robbe Nano F86 Sabre EDF during a sale, and after reading some experiences on forums straight away replaced the tiny servo’s with better quality ones. I had it flown in by an experienced club member who reduced aileron throws to 60 percent because it was too touchy, and he thought I would be capable of handling it if I moved the CG more forward. On following picture you can see how I bent lead around the lower intake portion. That secured the lead and provided a better sliding surface when the model landed, first on the wing tanks, but on dry surfaces quickly dipping (and digging) its nose in the grass during the rapid deceleration.

That model was only 65cm wide and weighed a mere 350 gram battery included (3S950mah). For me it was rather fast and very maneuverable. Aerobatics were no problem, but you had to keep it close because you quickly lost sight of it (and its attitude) against light clouds. I again never acquired the proficiency to hand launch it myself holding the transmitter in the other hand, and finally gave it to another club member who had launched it so often for me. That little screaming bird must have made about 50 flights and prepared me well towards larger EDF models that could take off and land on their own landing gear. I used a 3 minute timer limit to bring it back on the ground and after a while was able to make it touchdown with minimal speed right in front of me, in the grass along our narrow runway.

With the desire to once fly large historic biplanes, I knew those were tricky to handle especially during crosswind landings. Just as the original ones were designed to operate always into the wind from large square fields, the now restricted directions along defined runways are a real challenge for such wind catchers. When during summer 2011 Parkzone marketed a docile evaluated BNF SE5a WW1 very scale looking 1meter span foam replica I bought the first one delivered to Belgium and after assembly quickly test flew it myself. The four ailerons made it much more controllable for landing at slow speed, and it handled very easily and stable as coming out of the box. What I didn’t like were the plastic looks of the prop, gear and struts, the pilot’s face, neither the dashboard sticker or the clean look of the overall drab product. The light brown plastic parts were all painted over with two different brown tints applied when still wet . This created a realistic wood grain effect appropriate to such aircraft. They operated SE5a from the boggy Flanders field so a combination of brown shoe polish and judicious application of streaks all over the airplane made it look war weary. The pilot also got a British mustache and leather look jacket, and I glued a scaled down picture of museum kept SE5a on the dashboard. The plane looked superb.

I also added a magazine on the gun atop the wing and weathered the exhausts but getting the correct effects on the bottom clear linen (well molded painted foam) had been the biggest challenge. I later added scarfs trailing from the struts as used by flight leaders for their wingmen to recognize them during combats, and pretty soon engaged other model planes in mock combats. One club member also bought such model but he was afraid when I was hanging too close around him, a pity because flying down patrol with a couple of those would have been fantastic. This model handles very precisely and is capable of a larger speed range as expected. It is fully aerobatic and flies 12 minutes on a 3S1800 battery. The 10x8 prop is very efficient and so far survived all the stresses of nose overs during landings. Wheels are large enough to handle not too high grass (using slow engine acceleration and large amounts of up elevator till liftoff), but are also well suited for hard surfaces. After the sale of my Funcub, the SE5a became my weather test and proficiency aircraft. The 4 ailerons allow you to land it in a fair crosswind, as long as you keep the upwind wing low, and precision landings in front of your feet are always a challenge on taildraggers but very rewarding for the ego. After flying the later Stearman and Stampe the SE5a became superfluous as a trainer and during summer 2013 I sold it.

Spring 2011 I was offered a second hand yellow nosed FMS P51 Mustang, including a quality 4S3200mah battery. The seller was an old man who had bought it to convert to electrics, but as he couldn’t hear the engine RPM and found the foam to be a playball of wind, he vowed never to abandon his many gas powered model and I was the lucky person to get his mustang after only 3 flights for half the price. I added it to my growing collection and made a picture in the garden.

A Mustang has no place in my collection but is nice to have as a relatively docile warbird trainer thanks to its wide tracked landing gear and gentle stall characteristics. It was difficult to operate from our narrow runway and I after a minor crash when it caught in trees on final approach (those were topped off a week later) I sold it to a fellow clubmember but kept the expensive battery. The 20 flights I had made had cost me almost nothing, but had shown me such models were within my flying capacities. Another clubmember had bought an FMS Spitfire but even the most experienced modelpilot around was unable to operate it from our narrow strip. A Spitfire was well on my wish list, having had the opportunity to get a ride in the rare two-seater PV202 during its deployment for the Oostmalle Warbird show early nineties. I also got the remains of another crashed FMS Spitfire and bought everything for a reasonable price. I wasn’t ready for flying it, but right away started converting the 1400mm foam model into a replica of the Spit TR9 I had flown (yes it still had two sticks) for half an hour. Unfortunately at that time I still hadn’t heard of Callie Graphics so the hand painted finish looked a bit rough. After moving to the Zwartberg/Genk club I was able to fly it myself a couple of times from the wide tarmac runway, but the narrow track retractable landing gear makes it difficult to land so it mostly remained dormant in 2012. I took her in the air again in 2013 after installing a cheap HK V2 gyro and that makes her less tricky to operate. In between the few flights I did make some changes to the aircraft to improve longitudinal stability, the most effective being the reduction of elevator surface by the suppression of the outer portion with the aerodynamic area extending in front of the hinges. With only one control horn on one side of the elevator, torsion along the thin foam section joining both sides, and the airstream picking in on much of those forward extensions, caused the model unstable and inconstant behavior in flight. Although real Spitfires also was oversensitive in pitch (not at all in harmony with the stiffening ailerons at higher speeds), I prefer more stability in my models so I can fly them with more than ultra-calm winds.

Early 1012 my new club was still operating from a 1960’s 100m diameter circular tarmac runway. This was easier for taking off and landing into the wind, but the adjacent runway for real aircraft limited our approaches into a single axis, thus necessitating heading changes just before starting the flare. With such a large circle, alignment was not critical at all and before they broke up the runway for renovation during spring I purchased a rather cheap Robbe tiger painted F16 EDF during a Christmas sale. It was the logical progression after the nana F86 I covered earlier. A powerful 2600kv engine drove a 80mm 8bladed fan from a 4S2650mah battery and produced a much better sound as most screaming common EDF models. With 70gr/dm2 it had exactly the same wing load as the FMS B25 and that reassured me. With a wingspan of only 72cm the scale indicated slightly more than a kilo when flight ready. Assembly was straightforward with separate ailerons and elevator servo’s on each side (causing the usual problems wiring the elevator servo’s so they moved in unison instead of opposition). There is no rudder but a servo in the nose steers the nosewheel. Contrary to most model F16’s, this landing gear looks very scale, but does not retract degrading the looks when it flies by. For me it was the ideal step towards a retractable Hawker Hunter I had in stock, and costing only 109 euro PNP, was a calculated risk at that stage.

It was supposed to portray the 1991 color scheme of FA94 assigned to 31 squadron operating from Kleine Brogel, but it even doesn’t come close to it. I didn’t mind because as a member of the sister Devil squadron I wasn’t very fond of Tiger airplanes anyway. In this case it made it easier to see in the air and that was more important at that training level. Just as the real F16, this model feels much more comfortable in the air as on the ground. Taxiing too fast in a turn or not maintaining perfectly straight during takeoff and landing invariably results in the aircraft scraping the ground on its nose, nosewheel and one one of the maingears, the opposite wing pointing towards the sky. In order to keep this high speed tricycle under reins I dialed in an exaggerated 90 percent expo on the steering, but that is perfect for takeoffs and landings whilst still allowing short turns in the parking area. The first and the following 100 flights were uneventful as long as I kept an eye on the 4 minute flying time limit before the battery dies. With practice I now approach and land nose high like the real aircraft (about 13°AOA) and perform basic aerobatic maneuvers (strange sight performing a gear down looping). It’s one of the favorites of the public when I fly it.
Robbe F16 EDF (2 min 0 sec)

It now has served its purpose and a slightly larger retractable gear F16 from Banana hobby is getting personal treatment and modifications to fly during summer 2013. More about that aircraft in a dedicated built threat on this forum when it’s ready.
The day I maidened the Robbe F16 I also maidened my Dakota. The latter was sold by Dynam under the name Skybus but is really a very scale reproduction of a DC3. Having flown that particular aircraft in 1996 I didn’t hesitate purchasing it in a German shop, and back home modified it in a very attractive model that flies well but again difficult to operate with wheels on the ground. If you want more details, please look at the built log and replies (including custom flap installation and a MRrcSound system) of the lovely DC3 elsewhere on my blog pages.

That attractive model sits on delicate plastic fixed landing gears and I don’t dare to fly her very often. Having read on rc groups how to make custom stronger retracts, and maybe installing a gyro in the fuselage, I decided to sharpen up my tailwheel takeoff and landing technique first, and also check those gyro installations and operations out on a more “expendable” model. Believe it or not, when Shweichofer offered the FMS P51 (V6 with retractable tail wheel) BNF including battery for 200 euro, I promptly ordered one. Removing the magnet held canopy you have instant access to a cavernous flat fuselage above the wing, ideal for installing various gyros whose potentiometers can be adjusted with running engine on the runway between multiple test hops. This time I choose for the red Shangrila scheme and after inserting plywood under the back of the retract supports (to angle the gear legs more forward and minimize the tendency of tipping over and damaging the four bladed prop during rollout). I also applied a few coats of transparent wooden floor varnish to keep her finish (and multiple decals) in shape for longer times.

I flew it a lot but at one time replaced the breaking off foam between vertical stabilizer and rudder with proper hinges, and used small carbon strips I glued to wing root and flaps, preventing the flaps from moving up (asymmetrically) during steep turns or looping. That often resulted in uncommanded roll movements and I hated it. Now the plane tracks much better. I kept perfecting myself with it, because it was an ideal trainer for the Spitfire, DC3 and T6. The 4S4000 battery I fly with (for CG reasons as far forward as possible in the nose) allowed me more than 12 minutes of flying. Most flights consisted of some mild aerobatics, then wing low show passes, and after lowering the gear (once and for the rest of the flight) I performed about 5 touch and go’s of full stop landings with various flap settings. That model seemed more attractive to other club members or public as to me, but it served me well. I never bothered detailing it but during assembly exchanged the nice but too small and too forward placed pilot, for a correct sized but awful Goofy further back in his cockpit. After I got better flying my other taildraggers, I sold it during summer 2013.

The Lander Hawker Hunter became ready so he was next on the program. The erroneous CG in the manual caused me havoc but you can read all the details about that Model in a dedicated illustrated built log on my blog.

Having gained flying proficiency on biplanes with the SE5a I felt the urge to tackle another favorite of mine, the Boeing Stearman PT17. Having had the chance to give airrides in 3 different 220hp Belgian stationed Stearmans before the turn of the century, I wanted to fly this charismatic icon in model form as well. The existing expensive wooden E-flite model often got criticized for having bad flying qualities, but when FMS commercialized it as a foam 1 meter span ARF model I jumped at the occasion and soon started to cosmetically change the kit appearance to conform to one of the aircraft I had flown. More details about it can be found on the dedicated built log page on my blog.

In 2012 Banana hobby had a sale of very scale looking Art tech T6 Texan ARF models with retracts and a sound system. Having had a ride in a Belgian based historic aircraft of that type I had the model delivered from across the Atlantic because at that time it still was unavailable in Europe. I won’t go into further details here because a detailed built log can be found elsewhere on my blog about that neat model.

After 3 T28 Trojan aircraft got stationed in Belgium in 2011, and a very attractive one parked in the hangar next to our new model runway, it didn’t take me long to purchase the FMS 1400mm version and completely modifying it to conform to the original. It was my first attempt covering a model in vinyl and using Callie-graphic custom made decoration. Again please refer to the eight part detailed built log for further details and pictures. After completion the model weighs 3,7kg compared to the original 2,7kg. Not wanting to risk my detailed model I purchased a second hand one (already weathered by the previous owner) and started training with that. After a few months and the initial flights of the heavy one I sold the training example during summer 2013.

During summer I also made the maiden flights of my large electrified Stampe SV4. That project was a second hand balsa Stampe SV4bis of unknown origin, which I finished in the well-known traditional scheme of an aircraft I often flew, and gave me the incentive of becoming a pilot during an air force joyride the 21st of May 1967. Restoration log of the Stampe and a link to a U-tube maiden flight video are here.

Early summer I also started towed gliding. As a trainer for the latter I purchased a second hand Graupner ASW22 for which I couldn't find control settings nor CG. It took me 5 thrilling flights behind a variety of our club towships to get everything under control. Shortly after, Parkzone came out with a 2m25 foam Ka8 glider which I preordered and must have been the first in Belgium to get it. As you can see on following blogpage the result is very attractive. A pity the scale of the Ka8 doesn't match the Stampe, they would have been a nice vintage pair for towing.

After gaining proficiency with my training T28 I substituted a 580kv engine for the original 500kv, and was convinced the substantial practical increase in power was sufficient. After a few flights I installed it on the heavy one which was then maidened without a glitch. The second time I took it to the airfield I saw the real one being worked on outside so I first made pictures of both together. I then demonstrated everything to the owner/pilot (himself a former RC pilot when young). He witnessed and filmed my second flight and was impressed. He promised me a flight in his Trojan when it fitted our schedules. More pictures or movies will be published when available.

On a typical summer week/day 2013 I had following models in my camper (they all fit in fully assembled, except the 2m40 ASW22 which I store with wings removed in a closet), and flew all of them at least once at our club, before exchanging the fleet for other examples a week later.

Work is now being done on a slightly larger F16 with retracts. All parts are now collected for a Windrider Boeing 737 and I started modifying the wings with flaps. On the attic is still a very large box of a white FlyFly F100 super sabre and a Hype F104. On my wishlist are a Pilatus PC7 (to be modified from a PC9 kit) and the Phoenix 3,5m or 6m Schleicher Ka8b glider (our club members have many large towing models). As mentioned at the start of this long page, it will be amended as time passes, with the latest updates. Please stay tuned. In the meantime I resolved my stocking problem by turning the guest room into a hobby space and using a complete wall with adaptable racks. The picture shows the situation spring 2013.

Summer 2013 limited space and "training airframes" that had fulfilled their duty were sold via internet. In rapid order, the SE5a, Mustangs Shangri La and stock Navy T28 found a new owner. After much research I decided not to purchase a larger Ka8 (because of reported main wing beam failures) but obtained a solid decades old second hand Multiplex Ka6E GFK glider with an almost 4 meter wingspan. Reports about that will be posted after I have flown it and subsequently redecorated the almost white glider.
Last edited by BAF23; Jan 08, 2019 at 05:57 AM.
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Jul 30, 2014, 05:15 PM
The sky is the limit
BAF23's Avatar
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Winter 2013 - 2014

The owner of the real full-size Trojan kept promise, he took me along when he had to fly some passes during an open-house on a nearby airfield. A pity we had a serious birdstrike but you can read and see this on a specific blog page

I ordered the last (discontinued) Jamara Pilatus PC9 1m84 kit from Schweighofer, but the kit got seriously ruined during transport. It got delivered by the Belgian post, having been grossly repacked upon arrival in Brussels, because the original carton had been deteriorated standing in the rain on Vienna airport. It had been delivered there by the Austrian post who insured the shipping. This is what I found upon opening the box, the heavy hardware (retracts etc) had perforated various parts of the fuselage, wings and canopy, everything having been tossed loosely in a much too large carton laying around. Luckily the package also contained the damage papers signed by the Swissport handling agent.

All parts delicate and heavy through each other upon substitute box opening

It took me 2 months with lots of pictures and mails with statements from the shipping agents that the model had been left exposed on a water sogged pallet during a storm, before Schweighofer admitted to cover the costs (my bill showed I had paid for insurance). Being in the impossibility to send me an identical kit, I could choose one of a similar value and opted for the E-flite 25 series Piper Super Cub, which I plan to turn into a towship for medium sized (2kg) gliders.

Before winter I had a few test flights with the Ka6e 4-meter glider and it flew superbly. I had no problem transitioning towards such a large glider and liked the handling of it. For the rest I continued flying the foamy 2m25 Ka8b and decided to pass my (model)glider advanced license on the ASW22. This went well, but the papers came back, I first had to pass the elementary glider license before I could even attempt to pass the advanced test. A week later I used the Parkzone Ka8 for both tests, and while at it also passed the advanced powered model test with the Hawker Hunter. Not being an inverted aerobatic adept, I had to use that jet because it was the only one in my fleet capable of performing the mandatory half-loop after takeoff, followed by an inverted return to the start point. None of my other aerobatic airplanes are built with battery fastening able to cater for negative G-flight. I busted the landing but after a battery change made a good one and the paperwork passed this time.

Being towed in fierce winds I got a serious mishap with the rope sectioning half a wing of the Ka8, and although I first started repairing it, I ordered a pair of replacement wings and changed the tow mechanism, again all this can be found in detail on the Parkzone Ka8 blog page .Our airfield having a tarmac runway, and with the Ka6 and Ka8 having a wheel, I saw little use for the non-scale ASW22 anymore, and sold it for the price I bought it. It had served me well, but as from that time I would only buy and fly scale gliders.

Autumn passed, temperatures plummeted, wind picked up, and it was clear I wouldn’t fly much for the coming months. This time I decided not to stay idle and collect rusty flying fingers, our club also rents a small indoor sports hall during winter every Sunday afternoon, so I decided to give it a go. Having no experience at all regarding indoor flying, I searched the internet for what I thought was a suitable model, and opted for the E-flite UMX Hyper Taxi. This is a VTOL model based on the 50’s Convair Pogo experimental fighter. I figured with our small sports-hall, vertical takeoff and landing would make it easier to operate, and the power sufficient to allow 'high-alfa' slow turns until I got proficient at faster speeds. Although the model comes BNF with a AS3x gyro installed, I expected hovering to be difficult, and just as the real Pogo started testing hanging tethered on a gantry, I tried such a setup on the table. I immediately stumbled on some problems: to have a steady gyro reference, the aircraft had to be steady when then the battery was connected. With the platform (the green box) removed, the aircraft rolled due to the cord wire twist, and the torque of the propeller. I had very little play vertically and laterally, with the nose being pulled out of equilibrium by the weight of the wire each time I left the center.

Plan B led me to the lower living room, hanging the model from a higher lighting bulb assembly, thus allowing me much more lateral movements before the cord started pulling the nose. Even when I completely lost it, there were no obstacles and the aircraft could swing around until the pendulum got it hanging from the ceiling again. I found out that programming a throttle curve on my Spectrum DX10t transmitter, I had very precise control to regulate the altitude. After the removal of the white foam box and being ready for the slack on the rope, I then could lift for about 10 inches, the rope starting to roll up from the twist, and not immediately dropping in the propeller at a third of the fuselage.

After about 50 of such short (max 30 seconds) hops, I felt confident I had the basics in my fingers to attempt flying that thing untethered in the sports hall. After a few attempts, I got it airborne in a transition to horizontal flight. Walls, ceiling, floor, everything seemed to merge into each other, leaving very little time (space) between rapidly succeeding turns. The transition into the landing proved even more difficult, but over time I make an average of one out of three landings vertical on its tail. Frequent crashes rapidly deteriorate this light Depron airframe, and at the end of the indoor season it is still flying, but at an increased weight due to the many repairs with PU white glue. I wouldn’t recommend this model to start flying indoor, but it is a great challenge for the pilot, and always a crowd pleaser. It is very good for transitioning from an aircraft mode into high-alfa flying, but is no good getting started into helicopters, because the controls are completely different for positioning during the hover.

Seeing others fly helicopters, I got my Nine Eagles Solo Pro 100 from the attic and prepared it, but inserted the battery 180° around (yes there is a way), thereby allowing the positive and negative to be reversed and ruining the electronic card. That heli already had seen its share of crashes, so instead of buying a new card, I searched the second-hand ads and soon found popular Blade 120 BNF helicopters for sale in my vicinity. A few days later I was at a sellers home, and neither he nor his son had been able to fly it in their home, so they sold it. Seeing me able to testfly it in their kitchen, they asked me if I could try it also with their Nine Eagles Solo Pro 270. I was surprised I even was able to fly squares next to the Christmas tree, and half an hour later left their home with 2 helicopters, transmitters, loaders, several batteries and spare parts, all in a single handy carry case. All winter long, I flew both models in a corner of the sports hall every weekend, just following the pattern lines on the ground, figure eight maneuvers and circles, and exercising controlling the model even pointing towards me. These cheap machines are only good at very slow speed, but allowed me to slowly build up reactions in my finger work to master the basics of helicopter flying.

You might remember in my previous club I had bought a flybarless T-rex250 3G helicopter, but didn’t dare to fly it after I had repaired it after a crash within 30 seconds of getting airborne. I took that model to an experienced club member, had him look after it and helping me to program it on my transmitter, before trying it in the sport-hall with a training landing gear mounted underneath. That thing was nervous like hell, just thinking about an input already had it quickly moving one way or another. After my first hover, my instructor told me to remove that gear (which apparently disturbed the gyro reactions), and that was the last day I saw him besides me. Every weekend I flew 6 batteries with that touchy T-rex250, learning how to handle it in the hover, away from me and sideways, but I never dared to make a full flying turn in the hangar during that winter.

At the end I experimented with Idle Up one regime, but made the mistake of pulling back the throttle to idle before it started to go out of control. On my previous little helicopters, that stopped the engine and the helicopters came down relatively softly with the rotational energy still stored in the fixed pitch rotor blades. On this idle-up mode, if you pull the throttle back, the engine keeps running at the same RPM but the rotor blades assume a full negative pitch angle, smashing the helicopter on the ground, the rotor pieces fiercely hitting the floor until you cut the power with the kill switch. This caused so much damage that repairing it would cost much time and money. A call to my instructor revealed he just had advertised some of his smaller helicopters, including a T-rex 250 with flybars at a reasonable price. Two days later I walked out of his house with that model, plus two other T-Rex250 partly complete frames and some spare parts. This allowed me to immediately resume flying with the more docile flybar version, whilst gathering almost all the parts I needed to rebuild the 3G version for use during next winter season.

In parallel to the VTOL and helicopter flying, I still wanted to learn how to fly conventional aircraft in that hangar, but proved more difficult than anticipated. I first purchased a Parkzone Ultra micro Spitfire in BNF with an AS3X gyro stabilized receiver. I thought the hall would be large enough for a 40cm wingspan aircraft, but its minimum control speed surprised me, and it needed more air than I was able to provide with my limited indoor capabilities. I got it around, but often touched the wall in downwind? just misjudging the distances.

Repairing it was no big deal, and I took the opportunity to eliminate the horrible clear tape that held the fuselage and other things together, and gave it a paint job to represent the real Spitfire MK IX MH434 that was flown by Marc Hannah during the jubilee 1991 Kleine Brogel airshow (in temporary fake Belgian markings). All these repairs, reinforcements of broken wings, and cosmetics, added even more weight that increased the minimum speed even higher. My slow increase in indoor proficiency was essential just keeping up with the model changes, but at least it looked better (to me), was more visible against the sport hall ceiling, and kept me alert.

The scissors for size comparison

Getting indoor flying under the knee at my age, I figured it would be easier with a slow flying biplane, so I ordered an E-flite Nieuport 17 slow-flyer (I’m a scale women remember). I didn’t like the standard colors to start with, and before assembling it started to paint it in the attractive colors of the famous Belgian aviator Edmond Thieffry during theWW1. At the start of the paint job I noticed the cans I used ate up the tailplane, which had to be flattened again with filler and additional paint. Definitely not what was required for an airplane with such a short nose to balance out. After removal of the original glued on stickers, the resulting wings and fuselage required multiple coats to cover the foam/remaining glue underground, and the model became much heavier than intended. The wings also got eaten-up a bit during gluing of the interplane and cabane struts, resulting in incorrect incidence rigging. The rigging with wires is paramount but the provided sewing thread reported as too light, so I choose nylon but 1mm proved too thick.

The overall result was an extremely attractive model, but hardly suited for its intended purchase. Having no ailerons, wrong wing incidences, and excessive basic weight, it was very difficult to fly. Over the winter I made many modifications and slowly got her at a more comfortable pace around the hangar, but it was obvious that model again was totally unsuitable as an indoor trainer. Look at the following video to see how it handled (requiring about 10 seconds of fully opposite rudder to roll out from a 25° bank turn). I made about 10 flights with it and it now hangs (in airworthy condition) above the living room table. All the systems will be removed and reinstalled in an aileron home modified version of an identical kit.
Nieuport indoor maiden (0 min 28 sec)

I was lucky a club member sold his Magnum in BNF condition because he bought one with ailerons. I didn’t hesitate and bought it for a very reasonable price (including floats/skis). It definitely doesn’t look like a scale plane, but it flew very well and helped me building up confidence to fly indoor. In the meantime I crashed it a few times, and the pu woodglue is getting very visible on both wings and fuselage, but it is still going strong (pun not intended). I also flew it outdoor and it is a very good performer to just have fun with in a little wind. In the meantime I purchased the aileron version as well, because I often had made mistakes by using the wrong command on the ground or in the air. I also have another Nieuport which will be built witch ailerons and without the mistakes of the first one. Hopefully both those aircraft will allow me to attain a better level of indoor flying capabilities during the winter 2014-15

The T-rex 250 having a reputation of being difficult to fly, I got tempted to buy the e-flite Bolkow105 because it was gyro stabilized and at least looked like a real helicopter. Being a scale girl with very limiter helicopter flying capabilities, I found it inappropriate to fly it in the aerobatic Red Bull colors it wore, and because weight is the least of my concerns, I decided to change that model even before I flew it. First I ordered metal gears for the complete drive system for the tail rotor. I had to remove a total of 22 very tiny screws in deep recessed caves before the body came apart, a nightmare that ruined half of the very tiny screws. Awaiting the order of replacement screws, I gave that tiny model streaks of the well known German police helicopter colors and marked it according internet pictures of D-HAZY. German police don’t fly aerobatics, and patrol nap of the earth just the way I like to fly model helicopters.

I was particularly proud of having been able to program that model on my transmitter with settings I could handle, so I could testfly it myself. I don’t know why, but this touchy model inspired me more confidence and after some hovering I was able to perform 360° turns inside the sports hall. I also experimented with flying in idle-up 1 and 2 modes, and got acquainted with basics of flybarless model helicopter flying and programming. At the end of the indoor season, I modified the battery plug so it could accept my other batteries. The original 3S300mah expensive E-flite batteries were light to allow the model to fly the same maneuvers as its Red Bull full size counterpart, but the flying time was only 3 minutes. With the 3 batteries of the Magnum with 500mah, I now could fly the BO105 for 5 minutes, and the stability increased, allowing me to fly outdoors even in relatively windy conditions. That chopper boosted my confidence and although the box mentions it is for expert CCPM pilots, I didn’t have to replace anything so far, and after 9 months and about 40 flights that model still provides me a good mix of challenge and satisfaction. My Solo Pro 270 and Blade 120 SR feel so sluggish I will get rid of it to club members who want to learn the very basics of tail rotor helicopter flying.

Another club member sometimes flew a Lama and I saw the potential to turn it into an Alouette II model. Initially the biggest problem wasn’t being delicate, but it could only be bound to Futaba transmitters. After some months they started selling that model with an electronic adapter box that could be connected to a Spectrum transmitter. I bought such a red and white combo from Nine eagles, but have neither the programming knowledge, nor the urge to experiment flying that scale heli through all those electronic gismos yet. It remains stocked until I feel ready for it (next winter indoor?)
Last edited by BAF23; Nov 13, 2015 at 04:22 PM.
Jul 30, 2014, 05:36 PM
The sky is the limit
BAF23's Avatar
Thread OP

Summer 2014

Just as with any other model, larger helicopters are apparently also more steady, and I started looking for a second-hand medium-sized scale-looking helicopter. Not many suitable ones were advertised, and when I saw a T-rex 500 based Hugues 500 bodied chopper with Helicommand stabilization system advertised for half the new-price (but still the amount of 3 times my first wage in 1970, am I getting crazy?), I immediately reacted and bought that helo although finances were critical. I haven’t regretted it because it proved to be excellent value for money and was in perfect condition. The previous owner flew it in original Heli-artist camouflaged drab green colors of the Danish ground forces as seen in the background of the BO105 picture of previous post.

I didn’t like those looks and preferred a much more visible scheme, and that quickly proved its worth when the model ran away during my first attempts in making patterns or flown 360° turns (compared to simple hovering turns). Although the pointy nose represents an E model, I choose the well known scheme of the D model made immortal by being used in the 1980 Magnum PI detective television series shown all over the world. The color contrast is excellent, but opting for an 'easier' straight lines scheme proved wrong on a barrel shaped body with no flat panels at all. I spent hours making patterns on the vinyl adhesive and applying it on the heli, but the result is stunning.

Flight testing revealed the heavy body aft of the rotor, and battery position just forward of it made it extremely tail heavy. The helicommand took care of that but it had to work very hard, so I quickly took it apart, made a extended plywood floor panel towards the nose, on which I could mount the 6S3300 batteries on Velro and straps, and to prevent everything from moving and achieving a scale cockpit look, I mounted a foam instrument panel, added rudder pedals, and mated a highly modified FMS pilot torso to a carved and putty modeled body figure which I later painted as TJ, the black pilot with his Da Nang cap and David Clark headphones. If I ever find time, the second pilot figure will be modified to portray Tom Sellick with his mustache and Hawayan shirt. Here you see some of the custom pieces before painting and final assembly. Pilot legs and feet are high up because they rest on the now traverse battery.

The Hugues 500 is certainly not the most beautiful helicopter, but so far it has allowed me to very slowly buildup my model helicopter flying capabilities (thanks to the helicommand). Although I initially changed the position of the helicommand so the sensor could see the ground through a small opening I had cut through the bottom, I quickly found out this automatic hovering capability was not necessary and I mostly flew it without using that feature. I also ordered a head for a 4-blade system so I can experiment with that before I discard the Hugues fuselage and replace it with a better looking retractable gear Agusta A109 body from Heli Artist, which I quickly ordered before the stock ran out on every retailers’ websites. It now sits idle on the attic, and became part of another 7 boxes of rc products I still have to start building.

The positive experiences with the gliders had driven me into (at least temporarily) focus all my attention on that. All winter long, I had spent countless hours on restoring the Ka6e into the beauty it became (see my blog about the 4meter span Ka6e for more details and pictures).

Because I have flown a few times in a real Twin Astir II glider, this was on my shortlist as a next RC glider. All Twin Astirs available on the market are Twin Accro IIIs and their wings are very much different from the Twin II Accro models I flew. Just before leaving on a ski trip, I noticed a (vintage) Twin Astir II akro for sale on the second hand market. Further research about that model proved fruitless, especially that it had Obechi covered wings and a GRP fuselage, a wingspan of 3m55 with handy extensions to bring it to 4m10, and would be personally delivered at home by the Dutch guy who sold me the ASW22 (which I sold in January 2014).

I ended up paying a hefty 350 euro for a model with a lot more work than I had expected (but including servos and nice custom sewed carry bags), but price is irrelevant when you finally find a model which you thought was extinct. After deeper searches it proved to be a now very rare model produced by WIK during the early 80’s, and it was in a shabby state but structurally sound, and I already found a German guy who can make a reproduction canopy. That model will be fully restored before I fly it, because I do not trust the elevator and other components the way I got the model. In the meantime I keep it stored until I can collect all the necessary information and pieces to restore it to pristine condition in the high visibility colors of the Belgian Air Cadets PL93. Here is a picture of it upon delivery.

Just after the ski-holiday to Italy I stumbled on another second hand offer (I should refrain from checking those websites) which I thought would be unobtainable in a reasonable condition so close to home. By now you probably realize a Ka8b glider larger as my 2m25 Parkzone foamie, but smaller than the 6meter Phoenix model was on my dream list. Present commercial versions in the 3,5m span category like the Phoenix and Seagull versions do not have a scale looking nose. I thought 3,75m 10 years ago discontinued Flair models couldn’t be found in Belgium, and here I see somebody advertising one in flyable condition. I offered him half the price he was asking, because although the model was complete and he had spent 400 hours building it 8 years before (assembling the 600 wooden parts and covering it with quality Solartex), the model was well below my standards and after purchase I made some essential modifications before flying it. More details about that can be found in a dedicated Flair Ka8 entry on my blog. .After about a month I had it ready for its first successful test flights, and three days later took it along to Holland for a glider meeting where this picture was taken when I was assembling the model to be aerotowed by large towplanes.

That glider flies superbly and looks correct for scale, and next winter will be completely restored the same way the Ka6 was. Writing these long update it was already end of June and active flying took over, leaving most build projects idle. The half completed Boeing 737 will be further finished in between the flying and usual repairs of my fleet. I recently took 9 of them along in my camper on a sunny flying day, flying each one at least once, and no repairs to be made.

Summertime looks busy because I joined the Benelux organization BIGGS (with large towed glider weekends planned at regular intervals throughout three countries), requested demos with the Stampe, Ka8, Ka6 and T28 at various full-size airfields, and blues festival weekends in between. I cannot foresee time to build the awaiting projects like the e-flite super cub 25e towship assembly, or the attic projects like the PC7/9, F100 Super Sabre, Hawker Hunter two-seater, F104, F16 with retracts, and a few others, anywhere soon. Reports on this ‘my R/C history page’ will probably also have to wait till after winter for further updates. Flying and music still come first to me.

Early July an unfortunate mishap caused the total loss of the nice Ka6e, and with the Ka8b not yet restored to a trustworthy level, I either had to skip the remaining BIGGS meets, or quickly find a ready to fly replacement glider. I didn’t like the many advertised modern plastic ones, and opted for a classic 4m Blanik in very attractive colors. The model originated from a quality HB (Heiko Baumgartner) kit, was fully equipped with quality servos and dual power, and weighed a hefty 10,5kg. I drove a one-day 1400km up and down trip to Switserland to collect it, and was stopped by the German customs during return, unaware I should have spontaneously declared the model glider when entering the European community, with an additional 210 euro fee as result. A few days later I testflew it and was satisfied with what I saw. After changing the towhook and making minor adaptations to wingtips and tail (to operate it from our hard surface), I took it along to BIGGS meets and it was an instant hit. Next winter I will fully detail the cockpit interior and remove any exterior blemishes encountered during my getting acquainted flights.

Carrying my new pride towards the first testflight

I also was able to purchase a 2meter span electrified Hangar9 B25 and an Align500 Cobra scale helicopter, but those are temporarily stocked and will only join the operational fleet at a later time. In July I had the pleasure to fly my vintage Svenson Stampe SV4 model at the historical airfield of Goetsenhoven, where 5 real Stampes gathered to give airrides to other retired Belgian Air Force pilots. Next to me in this picture is Philip Avonds, 3 times world champion scale models, you couldn’t get a better coach to operate a model biplane in full crosswind.

In a years’ time I’ve been making lots of progresses, have sold my redundant Xeno, SE5a, T28 trainer, Mustang, ASW22 and a few other parts for a good price, but invested much more in my fleet, a phenomena every serious model flier will recognize. My collection slowly evolves into a very diverse array of larger extremely attractive models that fly very well and are providing me incredible self-satisfaction. I have no clue where this will end, but in the meantime this is very much rewarding and relaxing to me.

Happy landing, Laurence
Last edited by BAF23; Nov 13, 2015 at 04:32 PM.
Nov 13, 2015, 05:18 PM
The sky is the limit
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Thread OP

Year 2015

2015, converting from Spectrum to Taranis.

Autumn 2014, the Blanik became a cause of concerns when it twice started to roll right on short finals for landing and hitting the ground on its nose although I applied full up elevator. Checking the flap and control deflections on the ground revealed no anomalies, so the Blanik was stored for winter. At a gathering at Bastogne, the Flair Ka8b developed its share of problems, One of the spoiler mechanisms got disconnected from the actuator arm and as there was no access to repair it without opening the wing, a fellow pilot suggested I taped both spoilers shut and continued flying. That is when I realized how well that model kept gliding and was hard to put down before the end of the field. In the afternoon the wind picked up and the inevitable happened, I came in too low and couldn't cross the fence at the start of the runway. The Ka8 hit a square wooden fence-pole that penetrated the leading edge up to the main spar, but causing no damage to the latter. My second large glider was also out for serious repairs.

Just before the winter period I was able to make a short proving flight with the second-hand Hangar 9 B25, and although it flew well there was much work to do to bring it up to my standards and the idea was to do that over the winter period but other factors delayed that project for another year. The indoor flying season approached and I decided to first get that fleet up to standards by purchasing an on sale Parkzone Ultra micro Spitfire, but this time only applying Belgian roundels in lieu of the RAF markings and keeping the rest of the model as such to remain light. It now portrays SM24, a Mk9 Spit of the post war advanced training school at airbase Koksijde.

It flies much better than its (heavier) earlier counterpart which was retired from duty and is kept for spares. Next replacement was the green and white Magnum by a blue and yellow Acro Magnum equipped with ailerons. Using the same engine, receiver and servos, I got myself a much better flying indoor trainer. Although it is heavier and made of much corrugated but soft foam, it rolls better in and out of turns, and I can apply rudder and aileron corrections as per standard mode 2 to differentiate between ground and air controls. A better battery position below the nose keeps the foam intact, and the soft foam is able to much better absorb any crash damage without cracking nor permanent deformations. Old versus new Magnum

With the improved roll rate in mind, I also purchased an additional e-flite Nieuport17, kept it stock on the paint, built servos, wheels, rx and engine over from my first one, but equipped the new one with an extra single servo using push-pull rods to actuate the torque tubes for custom fashioned upper-wing ailerons. The details about that conversion can be found on a dedicated page of this blog, and sooner or later it will acquire some simple Belgian markings. Flight behavior is now much better so the first one sit in the attic for eventual spares. Here is a picture of the “aileronned” Nieuport just after the maiden, Acro Magnum visible lower left, expensive Spectrum DX10t Tx on my belly for its last days.

With these models still requiring the entire diminutive sports-hall indoor facility, I also acquired a completely stock e-flite Xtra AS3X to fly when others are also sharing the airspace. It flies very well but is so flimsy that any encounter with another model or crash results in damage that is difficult to repair and adds substantial procentual weight, gradually decreasing the benefits of the ultra-light tight high-alpha maneuvering. As I got tired carrying all those individual stowage and transport boxes in and out, I decided to rationalize my indoor fleet. I sold the Vapor, night-Vapor, old Magnum and Blade 120SR heli, and adapted the Xtra AS3x box so the Spitfire and Nine Eagles SoloPro270 heli all 3 fitted together into that one box. The Hyper Taxi survived another winter season, but glue weight and cosmetic appearance start approaching the limit of practicability, and that strange VTOL thing still needs of box of its own. The German police Bo105 never got airborne anymore because of a complex problem with the tail rotor steering, but I bought an immaculate secondhand Bo105 (with only one flight by the previous owner) to either replace it after swapping bodies (I refuse to join the growing fleet of RedBull decorated models invading every model airfield), or swapping tail mechanics.

During winter I elected to first finish the Boeing 737 but that took longer than expected because of repetitive details that had to be taken care of, both hardware and software. Speaking of the latter, I decided to implement Spectrum's latest software changes to my DX10t transmitter but after loading version 8 I lost all functionality of my stick switches (which I used for timer reset and autotrim function on the Helicommand module) and would had to manually bind every of my 30 receivers to the Tx again (some of them being deeply within scale aircraft or helicopters requiring serious disassembly to get it done). Inquiries on a dedicated DX10t RC forum only gave suggestions from a Spectrum factory developer to turn the transmitter in to the German Horizon importer. Besides shipping costs and weeks without a transmitter, I got tired of these software updates to an expensive system that the factory basically allows to die so people buy their more recent voice-capable expensive new transmitters like DX9 or DX18(t). During the previous year I also encountered a few unexplained temporary loss of controls that made me think to switch to the omnipresent Futaba systems in our club.

I loosely had observed my RC friend Phaedra's gradual but successful switch from reputedly reliable but obsolete expensive Multiplex equipment to cheap Chinese Taranis Tx and FrSky Rx electronics during summer 2014, and questioned her more deeply as to why and how difficult it was to switch to an open-software system. She quickly convinced me of the benefits, so I made up my rational mind and also decided to make the big switch, not realizing at that time that it would cost me a complete flying season to modify my extensive fleet. First obstacle was to find a Taranis Tx because they were so much in demand that you hardly had a few hours to buy them new before they were out of stock. That pushed me towards buying a recent secondhand Taranis Plus transmitter from a Dutch guy who couldn't get it programmed to fly his helicopters on it. Mind you, such Tx sell to very close the new-value because demand is continuously larger than the limited production offer, and they were only a quarter of the price of famous-brand Tx's. Next I only could find a new expensive Spectrum DM9 module in the UK, but needed one to continue flying those AS3X indoor models after the transition, and Spectrum equipped other models during the transition. It just slips in the back in the Taranis cavity, but I soon found out that both antennas influenced each other and 180° opposite pointing gave the best signal strength for the receivers. I made a first order of FrSky receivers and specific telemetry accessories so I could start converting,

I soon had my indoor fleet bound to the Taranis through the module so indoor flying wasn't interrupted, but converting the outdoor fleet would take 8 months in total. The reason is simple, to get the full benefit of the Taranis telemetry and reliability, every single Spectrum receiver (and I had about 27 built in my models) had to be replaced by a FrSky receiver. The latter were only a fraction of the cost of the former and came with built-in telemetry. Other goodies like very cheap precision variometers (with altitude transmission), battery voltmeters (down to individual cell measuring), and combined volts/amps/watt sensors to measure consumed power, were purchased whenever in stock through the Belgian reseller. I also extensively searched the Internet to find a lightweight transmitter-tray that could cope with the additional DM9 module on the back of the Tx (and thus double antennas sticking out in front).

It took me months to gather sufficient receivers and accessories to convert my fleet, but needed that time anyway to learn to program simple models, complex models, gliders and helicopters in the transmitter through the pc Open Tx Compagnion software program, each with their specific needs and assigned through a custom designed logic on the many Taranis switches. This is the strength of this open software. Unlike the factory fixed assignations on the brand transmitters, you can assign any channel/function/switches/controls to whatever you want on the Taranis, including individual mixes, expos, slows, delays, offset factors and so much more. You can really customize your transmitter with virtually no limits but your own ability to program all that manually in a relatively simple and logical syntax. Once you figured out and flight tested a single representative model of that category (such as simple glider, complex glider with flaps and variometer, simple airplane, complex airplane with gear and flaps plus telemetry, airplane with gyro stabilizer, simple helicopter, gyro stabilized helicopter), it got easy duplicating an existing model and making minor adaptations to the new model.

If done properly (and that requires a lot of experimentation and programming) you will be blessed with a transmitter that has all the (standardized) buttons and functions that you desire, and prevents you from connecting the model to the Tx when not ALL switches are correctly positioned (i.e. throttle, gyro and gear), gives you voice audio signals for thermal gliding, altitude, gear position, flap position, towhook position, battery power consumed, lowest cell voltage, receiver signal strength below 50% and many more, and all this at a fraction of the cost of similar possibilities of more popular brand equipment. What took me over the fence was that unlike with Spectrum, nobody ever reported a loss of plane due to loss of signal. Sometimes the Chinese get it right, and definitely did in this case. All over the world people are selling their expensive brand-name equipment half-price on the INTERNET or fellow club members, and for the same amount acquire a much more potent system with even better reliability record, the only drawback being the learning curve if you want to operate anything more complex than a 4-servo simple airplane. By the end of the summer I had sold almost all of my Spectrum equipment and the 1000 euro I got for them about covered the Taranis and its 25 receivers and telemetry. I didn't regret the swat so far.

During the winter months I finally was able to complete the Windrider Boeing 737. It was gorgeous but high-speed taxi tests had to be delayed till suitable weather came around. These were done with the Spectrum receiver but during the ensuing repair I substituted an 8+4 channel FrSky receiver for the maiden. Except for a nosegear retraction problem causing directional instability (fishtailing) , the maiden went well and landing was smooth and perfect. A few weeks later during the second flight on a windy day, it dropped a wing when turning base and plunged vertically into the ground. The damage mainly consisted of a broken-off engine pod and compression damage on the forward fuselage causing it to adopt a banana shape. As you can see on the dedicated Boeing 737 page of this blog : , I was able to repair it during summer, but still being unsure about the exact cause, I replaced the 8+4 by two parallel 6-channel receivers just to eliminate one possible cause.

After the indoor season my number one priority was to get the gliders ready for the spring-weather and large-glider gatherings. With the windy times at the end of the winter in mind, I also prepared an extra stock (thus very lightweight) Parkzone Ka8b without towhook for slope flying (christened Skippy because of the Aussie based visibility markings), and completely refurbished a secondhand solid relatively small slope-glider with beautiful wooden flying surfaces that I christened Woody (nobody else knows what type it exactly is). For various non-flight related reasons and although all had paid their annual dues , none of the other Zwartberg club members went to the Belgian slopes in 2015. Both models are fully trimmed out and Woody got at least 5 trim-flights behind a towship to get the CG and movable surfaces properly adjusted (never easy on a V-tail without spoilers, but with ailerons and flaps). That glider proved so difficult to land on the spot that I spent many more flights all along 2015 to try to adjust by modifying the many mix-parameters. By the end of the year I still was experimenting in tow because it glided so well that I wasn't sure I could get it down on the limited confines of a slope landing spot. As I didn't find a good solution and had a serious mishap at the end of the season when just after takeoff the canopy knocked off one of the v-tail feathers, I dismantled Woody and binned the unusable remains. On the picture of the slope fliers you see left to right: parkzone Ka8b with towhook, elegant Woody, lightweight Skippy and HypeDG1000 that I later sold because of the too delicate retractable propeller mechanism.

After so little recent flying during winter I reasoned getting the easier Flair Ka8 ready was the best solution to start flying large gliders again. Having to remove wood and fabric on one wing to dismantle and repair the spoiler, and fabric and wood on the other wing's leading edge to repair the damage from the pole, I decided to strip the complete model and after making sure everything was to my like on the inside (servos, electronics and scale cockpit), apply new fabric all around with a different paint-job. Illustrated details about that extensive work can be found on the Flair Ka8b page of these blog pages:

I got it ready just in time for the season start but during one of the post-restoration proving flights, a crosswind gust lifted the wing the moment the towship started our takeoff roll. Even using full aileron and rudder, I was unable to recover and even worse, because I still hadn't found time to lengthen my sticks and knobs of my transmitter, couldn't activate the hook release causing extensive damage to my Ka8 (dragged inverted along the tarmac) and some to the towplane which stalled in the grass just next to the runway. A couple of weeks later it was repaired but without completing the essential trim flights I took it to a BIGGS glider gathering where crosswind now lifted the other wing during the landing phase, causing the the Ka8 to be thrown into the nose of a large ASW28 parked perpendicular along the runway. Even when I got it repaired in a week, the weather in August and most tow pilots being on leave practicing slope-flying abroad, made me decide to stop cutting corners and methodically undertake the necessary trim flights during autumn before committing that nicely restored scale model normal flying during events. In the meantime I discovered and corrected a weakness in one of the elevator assemblies, probably the reason of the roll input during the last mishaps. By November I finally got everything straightened out and flight-tested so the model is fully ready for the 2016 season. Here you see it in front of the real former OO-ZAU (now German registered) at our airfield.

All this was also the reason why I joined a second club (TMV Tongeren) who's main (grass) runway was perpendicular to the one in Zwartberg, and you had the sun in your back during late afternoon and evening. I'll keep both clubs for the future, Zwartberg having the best tarmac runway for scale model operations, and Tongeren a much larger well-groomed grassfield with nice clubhouse facilities and serious experienced people in their ranks. The grass is of such quality that operation of my gliders, Stampe and even B25 and Boeing 737 are possible, my yet to build PA18 Piper Cub towplane will also benefit from this soft surface, but other priorities prevented me from even flying there once during 2015.

During spring I attempted to fly a mix of models on their original receivers, either through the Spectrum Tx or the Taranis through the module, and experimented with a couple of FrSky converted models on the Taranis Tx. It was horrible because switches and trims got mixed continuously (I fly crosstrim on the Taranis), and continuously had to think and adapt from one Tx to the other. Furthermore, during the takeoff roll of the Robbe tiger F16 first flight of the year, one fan-blade separated and ended up through the foam, causing such vibration before I could close the throttle for an abort, that all the blades had broken off and were found along the path after being spew-out through the exhaust. The short but intense vibrations also had caused both elevator hinges torn out of the horizontal stabilizer. The model being a couple of years old, I couldn't find a replacement fan/engine combo and would have had to substantially cut in the fuselage to replace it. I decided to put it up for sale and it was acquired by a guy for only static display purposes.

During summer I purchased a rare old Rödel Pilatus PC7 model that was almost completed but hadn't flown yet. That was easier and better than modifying the delivery-damaged Jamara PC9 into a PC7, so the former was put up for sale. Secondhand PC7 as acquired but unpowered unfinished.

Getting short on space, I decided to put up some lighter models for sale before even rebinding them or swapping receivers. In short order I was able to sell all my FMS B25 stuff (1 flying and two spare airframes), the much repaired Lander Hunter plus another one still in the box, and the Hype DG1001motorglider with the troublesome prop retract mechanism. These sales were also caused following my worsening eyesight, leading me to eliminate too small models from my fleet and keeping or acquiring larger ones. Here is a picture of what the buyer of the FMS B25 in flying order got as extra for spares.

I therefore purchased a secondhand ready to fly but unflown FlyFly Aeromacchi MB339 with retracts and a 90mm fan installed, to use as a proficiency EDF trainer for the Boeing, or as a model to fly with stronger winds. It was cheap but required a lot of alterations to correct the many shortcomings the builder had made. Flying it was a delight, but the many changes to the power-train and nosegear augmented the bill and time spent during the flying season. Wrong orders provided me lots of parts that could be used for a secondhand FlyFly F100 that I purchased during autumn 2014 but lays unattended in the attic since. More details and a video of the AerMacchi MB339 can be found on the dedicated build log of this blog.

Reason that it all went so slow was that during the receiver change , all models got a thorough inspection and also got dual (receiver) power supply by modifying the wiring with a Schottky diode between either both batteries, or an (emergency) battery and the BEC from the ESC. For larger models, redundancy is a must but I acknowledge that all these extra connections and gimmicks also create additional possibilities of failure, especially on the single point of catastrophic failure around the diode. After each conversion, the models had to be test-flown and fine-tuned for trims and/or mixes (usually taking about 4 flights to get everything tuned). On the lighter foamies such as the FMS Spitfire and Stearman PT17, Dynam DC3 and ArtTech T6 Harvard, I also replaced all non-disconnectable Orange gyros by the transmitter-switchable Mk2 variants. Those off course required even more adjustment flights during calm weather, and iron nerves when the flight controls started overreacting in the air.

In between all that I made my first attempts programming and flying helicopters such as the diminutive Bo105 and my large Hugues 500. Without guidelines I was on my own to figure out how to program idle-ups/ throttle and pitch curves etc on the Tx, then have that either send to an AS3X receiver through the DM9 module, or a FrSky Rx to translate that to a Helicommand module towards the various servos. Needless to say, I was very reluctant to get those helis in the air again, but my homework had been correct and both helis behaved relatively well during their maidens (but I was extremely cautious because I hadn't flown helis for almost a year and felt very rusty). Follow-on flights revealed many programming shortcomings regarding throttle-cut and pitch sensitivity between various flight modes, but before the end of the year I got those things straightened out and hope to complete and fly a few more helicopter models in 2016.

With the fleet nearing completion, I found time to repair the Boeing but the third flight (cameras from the national television filming) was marred by a new problem, unpredictable occasional very pronounced left wing dips in all flap configurations. I was glad I got it back on the ground without damage and after a while I also found the culprit and corrected the problems before finally making a completely successful fourth flight the last weekend of September. The 737 which still looks great for most spectators, has so much fuselage repairs visible to me that I ordered another (glider thus empty) kit and I seriously consider not only using another fuselage on my existing wing and tail feathers, but making a completely new lengthened B737-800 model using my existing engines and landing gear, plus the expertise of what was ok and what has to be changed. In the meantime my -700 sees use as a training-ship to get used to the sometimes nasty habits of tip-stalls with full flaps. Read the whole Boeing model saga on its dedicated page on this blog.

With the conversions being terminated (except for the indoor T-Rex250 helis), I was able to undertake the finishing touches to the B25 Mitchell. I couldn't see a good solution for mixing the existing wiring to the fuselage emplacement of the batteries and specific four power sources I needed to operate that heavy electric model in safety. Starting from a clean sheet in electric/electronic setup for that bomber, it again took me weeks to get that model ready for its second test-flight, but all this can be read in more detail on the B25 pages:

Early November we had a late Indian summer and I took the opportunity to testfly or refine the remainder of the fleet. The Blanik got 3 more tows but tip stalled during the flare on its last landing, incidentally the first attempt at a full-flap landing with the new settings. Damage was minimal but the proving flight after a flap-angle reduction and aileron reflex with full-flaps will have to wait till spring 2016. Those few flights boosted my confidence flying the proud of my glider types because I had become very reluctant to take them out. Here is a picture of my 2 large gliders facing each other at a local exhibition for the annual club fly-in.

After loozing Woody I reflected on some glider mishaps. After the beautiful old Ka6e, this was the second old glider with Abachi covered foam core wing and tail structures (without spar) that I lost behind powerful modern towships. As those guys gear up for the tendency of ever growing model gliders (7 meter span and more than 15kg are not exceptional anymore), I now understand that hooking up 20+ year old designed kits on such tugs is no option anymore. Those pilots are so used to pull (modern speedy 5kg+) gliders, that slow tows of light construction gliders are either a burden, or nearly impossible for them. Besides my quarter-scale gliders, I also like to fly 2 meter lighter gliders but in the future will choose to hook up behind smaller/slower towships with such more delicate gliders.

In the meantime I finally had the Hangar 9 B25 ready for a proving flight after extensive modifications that took me many hours spread over a year. The taxi tests revealed some shortcomings on the sound system and prop seize, but a week later I had it airborne for a very satisfactory trim-flight that proved so far everything was as predicted and over winter the final works on a bomb drop system, LED lights on the fuselage mounted guns, making some form of cockpit interior, and reducing the shiny exterior, will need attention.

End November I stumbled on a ultrarare 40 year old RF5B Sperber motorglider model of 280cm span and that restauration will get a dedicated separate entry on this blog. Although I had convinced myself that I already had too many models in stock, none of them were scale motorgliders, a must have because during summer I noticed how often we didn't have any towship available in the club.

Next on the bench will be the Pilatus PC7, and for following models I have already 90% of the necessary parts on stock: Fly Fly F100 Super Sabre, e-flite Piper Super Cub glider-tug, Wik Twin Astir II, Windrider B737-800, Heliartist Agusta 109, Banana Hobby F16, Sig Demoiselle. I'll need some long winters before all of those will be completed, and there is still indoor flying taking place. This concludes the writeups of the 2015 flying season, the storage rack gets constant adaptations to follow the multitude of fleet changes, tuned for more next year...

ps: After a 3-week intense restoration effort I was able to do the maiden of the RF5b just 4 days before Christmass. The detailed story about that model has a separate entry on this blog but here is a picture minutes after the succesful maiden flight.
Last edited by BAF23; Jul 31, 2016 at 01:07 PM.
Feb 08, 2017, 05:17 AM
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Year 2016

Early May the weather gods were favorable to us for only one week, coinciding with the first BIGGS meet at my club in Tongeren, allowing me to gain much needed confidence after the rusty winter months. Except for the still muddy camping, the gathering was a success and it was nice to be in between this unique community of large gliders and towships again.

dsc 7567

Due to a variety of reasons I hadn't even flown indoor during the 2015-2016 winter. I sold half of my indoor fleet and small helicopters and spent a lot of hours modifying the B25 with an operational bombdrop system and simulated guns with LED's. Early in the season a proving flight was successful and I then searched for a way to eliminate that awful factory shine from the Hangar 9 covering. In the end a dull spray for fixing crayon on paper gave excellent results and that was the final touch for that model. Soon after, my new club asked me to use the B25 to drop candies for the kids during their annual puppets and pets carrying event. This went well but the landing gear proved marginal for use on badly prepared (torrential rain spring season) grass surfaces. More details about all this can be seen and read on the specific B25 page of this blog

In the meantime I took advantage of the appalling weather to complete the many changes to turn an e-flite Piper Super Cub 25e into a scale marvel of a Belgian Air Cadets towship. This again occupied me for many months and the results were just stunning. Testflying proved all my aerodynamic and mechanical changes made the model much more docile to fly, both from hard or soft surfaces and completely eliminating the horrible adverse yaw of the standard e-flite kit. Read all the details on the specific modified Super Cub page of this blog

Between spring and summer I went to a large-glider gathering in Germany where I had some nice flights but the attitude of the organizer made me cut the week short and after driving back to Belgium I also came to the conclusion that my old camper was not not suited for the job anymore. A week later I had another camper with much more accessible space to store my models and you can read all about that in the “how I stock and transport my models” page of this blog. During that time and lousy weather I also restored a 35year-old WIK Twin Astir II glider, purchased a very cheap secondhand Multiplex Funcopter v2 and kit of a FlyFly Hawker Hunter for a 90mm fan, and a 40 year-old kit of a Grunau Baby small glider.


First weekend of July the airfield of Zwartberg hosted a fly-in with trainers being the theme of the year. Eight of my models were selected to form the backbone of our club's static model display in the hangar, together with the full size gliders, helicopters and ultralights. Transporting such large fleet in one go was no problem thanks to the new camper.

The weather got better in July and in-between the flying I drove a one-day 1200 km round trip to Villingen close to the German-Swiss border to pick op a second-hand Schneider Ka2b 1:3 scale traditional glider with only a dozen flights on it. Lots of long term projects laying around, but short term I had a lovely week flying my gliders and motorglider at the annual BIGGS meet of Pottes along the Belgian-French border. The new camper proved it's worth as a practical traveling hangar for a variety of models.

hymer 2016

Spending almost a hole week with members of my Tongeren club at that camping in Pottes was a wonderful experience. It made me discover that I missed this near family atmosphere at my other club, probably because we don't have a model-clubhouse at Zwartberg and everybody quickly leaves for home after the flying. At Pottes we had participants from the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, France and Belgium, a true international community with exceptional frequent social contacts all week long. No better way to spent your time than at such gatherings, no television, no electronic social media, only face to face international talks and flying in a pure air environment whilst walking miles all day to move your gliders around. The local club provided excellent food and drinks and every morning our youngest (female) member brought fresh croissants to the camping. I can become 100 years like that. If anybody would have told me 4 years ago when I started flying foamies that I would fly amidst such notorious experienced international R/C pilots, I would never have believed them.

In August I drove 4 hours to join the BIGGS circus it the Northern Holland village of Odoorn for another 3 days of gliding. The few attendees (because of the remote location) meant no cuing so I flew a lot alternating between my 3 gliders. Except during the Biggs gatherings, flying weather had been appalling durin the summer months. Either there was too much wind, too much rain, or it was too hot, so I hardly flew at any of my club locations. The annual gathering of gliders at Bastogne gave me a chance to spend time amongst fellow Zwartberg members also camping for half a week. Although the queue sometimes consisted of 20 gliders, I flew many times a day and had ample chance to better get acquainted with the excellent flying qualities of my recently restored Twin Astir II.

twin ast.. img 7936

The last Biggs gathering was early September at St Truiden and the weather, turn-up and facilities were superb. A fellow clubmember offered me to fly his 7m20 ASW28 glider (under a linked transmitter setup) and although I originally declined, on the end of the last day I gave in. Thermals were not terrific that day and most gliders were back on the ground after 10minutes. Bert had the master transmitter with wing camber, hook, gear, spoilers and flaps control plus the vario audio so he flew the takeoff and climb and immediately after release and trimming, handed over the controls to the slave transmitter on which I only had the basic elevator, ailerons and rudder. After his and my initial surprise how little trouble I had managing that large model, without efforts nor sensors I stayed up for 50 minutes before turning over the controls approaching the downwind. He offered me the option of landing it, but having such limited channels and no trims on my slave transmitter, I refused. The go-pro cockpit camera had recorded the first 45 minutes of the flight so I could analise the flight. Having had no previous experience flying modern plastic large gliders , I was satisfied having pulled it off, but it didn't trigger my “more” button, I think I'll stick to more traditional ancient type gliders. At least it boosted my confidence that the size and weight of my Ka2b were within my model flying capabilities.

At the end of September a late summer developed and I arranged with a fellow Zwartberg pilot to bring a 2kg glider so I could try towing with my Piper Super Cub. Before he was ready I made a couple of flights with my Macchi MB339 EDF to get a feel of the crosswind that day. As these were uneventful I prepared the Piper to first make some familiarization flights on the tarmac after not having flown it since spring. Piper Cub-tarmac runway-crosswind is not an easy combination. I survived the first 3 takeoff and landings, but had trouble staying in the runway axis during takeoff and climbout, probably due to a combination of inadequate partial-power to rudder mix, and the 90° crosswind blowing from behind the hangars. Just after the fourth liftoff, I used too much aileron to correct the drift and then over-controlled the rudder to get out of the ensuing wingdrops. Although I was able to fly out of it, the model was pointing the tail at the wind at about a meter altitude over the grass when it stalled. I knew it would be bad but upon arrival noticed very little damage except for the complete nose having separated from the fuselage. My reinforcements on the motor mount had worked, but I could see for the first time how little wood took care of holding the firewall to the fuselage. Considering the fact I balanced the Piper by having the heavy battery halfway in the motor mount and the ESC attached to the bottom, it is a small wonder this complete heavy assembly had not separated from the fuselage during previous landings. Repair seemed straightforward but was for the winter.

Benny didn't have to take out his glider and still hadn't been able to see if I or my Piper could handle towing, that will be for 2017. With time to spare I decided to take the RF5b motorglider out of the camper and perform a functional checkflight after installation of a different type of retract. After takeoff I climbed out and was able to grab small diameter thermals and thus trimmed back for slower turning speeds. After a while another pilot asked if we could share the airspace and I had no objections but had a constant eye on the wide academic maneuvers this scale contest judge performed over the runway axis. I definitely wanted to stay out of his way and flew accordingly. At one time I ended up at downwind altitude and planned on opening up my engine for the 4th climb when the nose pointed towards free airspace again. I unfortunately forgot I had trimmed back so much and the RF5 stalled with a 90° wingdrop into the trees in the middle of the downwind. It therefore took the three of us some time before finding the model.

Only after opening up the throttle during the search did we discover the motorglider 20meters high between branches of the highest old trees without possibility to climb them or use a ladder. The plane looked intact so we tried to saw the tree but the wood was so dense that it immediately stopped against an adjacent tree. The second tree also got saw off and both fell together in a loud slow motion movement as the sunset caused light problems. When I got to the rich-grown treetops now on the ground I anticipated many pieces of my motorglider spread everywhere after the 60ft fall, but couldn't see any. Only after lifting some branches did I discover the white/orange RF5, remarkably in one piece. The two of us started work carefully in unison and after a few minutes of clearing branches and pulling on the glider, we got it out in one piece with no damage other than to the leading edges of the wings, caused solely by the initial impact after the stall. It was a pure miracle that all the rest of the model didn't even have a dent, even the Oracover elevator or rudder escaped any damage. The gear was down (failsafe) and geardoors unharmed. It is unreal that such a delicate relatively large (2m80span) model can survive the forces of surrounding treetop branches hitting the ground after a 60 feet freefall.

Although we had some fine Indian summer days after that, a move of my father to another rest-house took most of my time and in-between I started the restoration of that huge Ka2b glider. After 3 months of intense and dirty work it became a beauty and I was able to solve the transport problem for the 2017 season. All the details about the restoration and the the transport dilemma can be found on following entries:

pic final fus 15

I refrained from starting any further model building before the then present fleet had been completely repaired. First to be opened up was the Multiplex Funcopter that made a funny noise at the tailrotor after a minor mishap during summer. Although it probably will require a new set of nylon teeth at the back of the boom in the long run, for short term I was able to eliminate the play by adjusting the boom mechanical length. This was straightforward and hopefully would allow me some necessary training flights during spring before undertaking flying the big Hugues 500 again. The Blade 130 Bo105 was also flightworthy with the RedBull shell but after a few hops left aside during summer because it was too tricky to fly outdoors. As I still didn't feel like flying indoors for a while, that aircraft and heli fleet was gathering dust but selling it was not necessary because I might take-up that hobby aspect again later.

One of those models was hanging over the table in the dining room, still in the original French Nieuport 17 layout from e-flite (to keep it light). Seeing it in the background of many pictures made me unhappy so I decided to modify it into a Belgian nr1 squadron Nieuport 23 (before they started to camouflage them later in the war). I removed the fuselage markings with great difficulty and replaced them with a vinyl self adhesive comet flash. The red stripes of the cowling were eliminated and the white and blue French markings were over-painted with water based children stuff into yellow and black to produce the period Belgian markings on wings and tail. The gun was taken from the top of the wing and after modifications to the barrel glued to the top of the front fuselage. The prop was wet-treated with two shades of brown to look like wood. I finally could look at an equally flyable model but now personalized as I prefer them to be. The aileron mod and aesthetic changes set it apart sufficiently from the standard e-flite model that most people do not set the link anymore.

Halfway November I undertook the repair work on the Fournier's wings. After finding a suitable new balsa leading edge and cutting away the damaged abachi wood I used 1mm plywood as substitute and obtained smooth new wing leading edges with expanding pu wood glue to fill the foam voids and cracks inside the wing. After a thorough check of the rest of the model I found out that my thick iron wing joined had been bent a bit so I straightened that out. Nothing else seemed damaged but I also reprogrammed my transmitter so the engine would respond along a new curve as soon as the throttle was moved above idle instead of only responding starting almost at the halfway mark (remember this is an old brushed engine). I also took the opportunity to change the transport box from the custom wooden affair to fit the front of the old camper, into a foam box that was cut in such way as to be able to have all the RF5's parts blocked neatly together for either transport in the camper's aft garage or home storage. I arranged it that the fuselage rested on the extended main wheel , eliminating the retraction problems at the field during assembly/disassembly.

At the start of December I removed the wings of the damaged Piper towship and carefully dismantled the nose parts. The more I looked at it, the more I got convinced that the nose had to be rebuilt in a different way. Weight being no problem, I added serious plywood reinforcements in the side and bottom of the forward fuselage before reassembling the nose with copious amounts of PU glue. Nose electronics were moved further aft to compensate and also put less g-strain on the forward fuselage. It again balanced nicely without having to add lead.

At the end of the year I started the works on the PC7 by removing the stickers on the wing and installing aluminum split flaps under the foam/abachi trailing edge. Provisions were made for the 5 wing servos but having no idea of the internal wing structure (reinforcements) a lot had to be done by poking in the wing plus trial and error. Here is the situation around new-year 2016-2017.

Please read my individual model build logs for more details of what is rendered in condensed form in this page. The build logs are updated throughout the year whilst this page only at the turn of the years.
Last edited by BAF23; Feb 08, 2017 at 06:53 AM.
Jan 08, 2018, 04:12 PM
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Year 2017

January 2017 I continued working on the wing of the Pilatus PC7. After seeing how weak the supports were for the cheap installed retracts I had to perform some serious surgery on the underside of the wing. After much stronger supports I swapped the brakes and gear for much stronger electrical ESM PC9 scale retracts. The ailerons were given proper hinges and 5 quality strong servo’s were installed to handle both ailerons and the three flap sections. I then covered the wing in vinyl according to the attractive scheme of the last built PC7 : N60LT operating at my model airfield. The detailed illustrated build log of the PC7 will only be published when the model will be finished hopefully by spring 2018.

Pic PC7 4335

That is as far as I got with that model because in March during a ski holiday at Madonna di Campiglio I broke my right collarbone in 4 pieces and that prevented me for a while doing much movements or lifting heavy objects. Februari 2017 I purchased a Freewing F104 ARF with 6S low noise EDF but that was because it was a promotion sale and it will not be assembled or flown before a couple of years.

In February I became the secretary of the BiGGS international large towed model gliders club and because the administration of it was really shambles I spent a lot of time during the following months to reorganize, rationalize and digitalize the piles of documents. I developed new written standard operating procedures and was a key player organizing and conducting the annual events which started in the North of Holland the long weekend of the first of May. It was windy and not many members flew, but that allowed us organizers to fly almost non-stop whenever possible.

Early spring I maidened my large Ka2b and after some difficult inconsistent flying behavior, we measured everything out and its biggest shortcoming was a 2° incidence difference between the wings and a positive tail decallage instead of negative. Together with my B25 I flew it at TMC’s fly-in but knew I was in for serious modification work during next winter.

pic ka2b 0490

At the fly-in, the grass had not been cut short due to recent rain and I hardly could taxi my B737, let stand gaining sufficient speed for takeoff. A week later we had the glider meet but after a few days I left to accompany my 93 year old father on a two week cruise to the Norwegian Nordcap. I hardly flew at my old club of Zwartberg being too busy with BiGGS and flying at my new club on their well manicured grass. After giving a demo for schoolkids I overturned landing my Stampe, only a slightly cracked rudder top, but the trigger to finally take care of the imperfect wing and tail incidence during a future complete restoration including replacing the awful shiny and much repaired Oracover by painted Oratex fabric.

During another weekend I managed to misjudge a touch and go of my Piper and landed with more sink rate than anticipated. I went to the model, saw no damage but overlooked to also check the battery. It was kept in position by the pilot’s seat and legs but the hard landing must have taken that out of its bracket. After I opened up for another flight, even with full down elevator I was unable to keep the nose from rising too fast after takeoff. I stalled and not only the nose got badly crushed, but the wing tube bent and some structural wood in the cockpit area had cracked. Sufficient signs for me to definitely stop flying that model. During the next months I repaired it to a high static standard and offered it for free to a former colleague who flew more than 3000 hours with the original.

End June during a rehearsal flight with the Blanik I noted that it behaved strangely in pitch. After a precautionary landing I discovered to my astonishment that there were serious cracks in the tail section. Friends of mine repaired and reinforced it after discovering a very poor repair by the previous owner after the crash during his maiden. I got lucky that time, but one skipping metal gear elevator servo indicated that mishap might have been caused by transport damage and I modified the angle at which the Blanik sits for transport in the camper.

July and August were typical Belgian summer months, too cold, too rainy and too windy . Flying the Ka2 for a special event in gusty crosswind was not my smartest move. At the end of the 4th flight I approached rather steady but a gust lifted a wing during touchdown, the other wing touched and the glider cartwheeled resulting in one wing torn off at the root, the other breaking completely at half span, plus torsional damage on the fuselage sides under the tailplane. I shouldn’t have flown it before taking care of the wing asymmetry but I allowed external pressure and a VIP visit to neglect common sense. As I collected the pieces I was glad the vultures kept away and refrained from crash tourism. At that time I still was not convinced I would undertake the complicated and lengthy repairs. Listen to the wind, see the crash and judge for yourself. I had no time to react on the controls, just sufficient time for jumping away and avoiding the glider hitting me.

Ka2 scale model crash at Pottes july 2017 (0 min 45 sec)

In August I attended a German week for towed models on a real glider site but came back early after various BiGGS members kind of harassed me for my work as a secretary all evening during a friendly talk at one’s tent. Some members couldn’t hear it anymore and escaped the environment. I listened with disbelief to 3 towpilots bombarding me with questionable remarks and I had to make a serious effort to keep calm. I hardly slept that night and didn’t feel well anymore even after some came to my camper to excuse themselves or comfort me. The majority was still behind me but for me it was a sure sign to stop my active involvement in any club activities and a few days later I offered my resignation (after having worked so hard for guys who don’t even appreciate the efforts).

In September I attended the last BiGGS gathering of the season but due to a tow pilot not respecting the recommended BiGGs procedures for release, the tow rope got caught between the rudder and fuselage of my Blanik. I in fact pulled his heavy Rans backwards and down and had he not been quick to release, we both would have spun to the ground still entangled. During the incident the rope managed to crush down and destroy the aft part of the canopy but I managed a perfect landing with the rope around the wings and tail. Luckily I still had the destroyed area of the canopy in stock and I soon fabricated and mounted a new frame and clear canopy before I took the model to the GFK specialized friends to repair/reinforce the base of the vertical fin.

Pic Blanik 4386

Together with family and close friends related serious phone calls that day, it led to a sleepless night. All the accumulated stress about BiGGs matters resulted in me staying in the camper all next day with all the physical and mental symptoms of a burnout. I left early that evening but still maintain excellent contact and friendship with the majority of the BiGGS community. A day later I was attending Sanicole airshow as a guest VIP but I hardly could walk and my head was not in a condition to enjoy the show nor all my former friends.

With the Ka2b and Blanik grounded for months, further towed glider flying at TMV would be seriously impaired during the “indian summer” weekends but on a German modelsite I stumbled upon a rare quarter-scale Fliegerland Foka4 glider for sale and bought it in Germany in immaculate rarely flown condition for the correct price. Back home I undertook the task of replacing the German markings and turn it into an actual British flying Foka4. In the meantime I flew it every possible remaining weekend to get acquainted with the speedy aerobatic design. More info about that Foka can be found on its specific page on my blog

Pic Foka4446

Early October I acquired a secondhand Real Flight simulator with hardware, allowing me to retrain on helicopter handling because I wish to pick that up again. A member of my former club was quitting and selling an unflown 90mm quality EDF Viperjet with Savox servo’s and 6S120A ESC for half the cost of the parts. I’ll probably make a few flights with it before using the parts to complete either the FlyFly F100 or the Hunter that are still waiting for completion in their original boxes. The Zwartberg club celebrated its 60 year jubilee and I was asked to bring my club representative T28 and yellow/white Ka8b to hang above the tables of the dining in the hangar. When I wanted to retrieve my models, the owner of the real T28 said I couldn’t take it home, he offered me the value of all the components and hung it in his office in the hangar next where his real Trojan resides.

Having lost interest in indoor flying (my reaction speed is going down) I decided to sell the fleet at the start of that season. In no time I got rid of the Magnum, Hypertaxi, Spitfires, 270heli, as3extra, Nieuport and Demoiselle. The rationalization of the fleet was a necessity in my apartment and allowed me to move half of my bedroom models into the hobby room. More obsolete models will be sold in the near future to make space for new projects, like the plans I purchased for making a 130” towed U2 glider. I spent the last 3-1/2 months of 2017 restoring the crashed Ka2b to flying condition, a major undertake that was nearly completed by new years evening. If interested, you can read the complete illustrated rebuild log on my blog under following thread

Compared to the 3900 euro’s I spent in 2016, 2017 has been cheap with only about 1500 euro’s for a complete year of flying and more than thousand hours of free-time-filling labour. Contrary to people’s beliefs, this is really a cheap hobby, and I gained a new friend who shares the same hobby and musical interests. 2018 looms ahead and looks more than promising on a variety of subjects.

Go back to my model chronology since the 1960’s
Or to the index pages of my blog
And don’t forget to come back early 2019 to read my 2018 activities
Last edited by BAF23; Jan 08, 2018 at 04:45 PM.
Jan 08, 2019, 06:18 AM
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[U]Year 2018[/U]

After finishing the post crash restoration of the Ka2b I resumed the works on the Pilatus PC7. The collarbone I broke during ski 2017 caused me to stop the works after the wings were completed. The fuselage also needed a complete rebuild and the first 3 months of 2018 were spent finishing that task. For more details about that task I suggest you to redirect on the PC7 build log At the end of that page you’ll see some nice shots that were taken when the real PC7 and my model were photographed together at Zwartberg airfield for the July 2018 fly-in.

Back to February when I attended the swap-meet at Wavre. Scale Dreams had a box and a model of their 1:3 scale Tipsy Nipper on show and I ordered a kit for delivery end of March. My idea was to quickly assemble it so I’d have a practical relatively small and easy to fly model with which I could fly from grass or tarmac to get my rusty fingers free before flying the PC7. As it was a traditional wooden kit and I applied lots of scale modifications to it to portray a model of the Nipper I flew for real in the nineties, I spent a full four months of intensive work before it was flight ready. By that time the glider season was in full swing and the first testflights in August showed there were still many problems which took me a month to be ironed out. All the details about that Tipsy Nipper history, build and testflights can be seen on End of august I attended a meeting organized by the kit producer (left on the picture) when we posed for eternity with the 4 first assembled kits.

Pic meeting 26818 076

During winter I encountered a lot of laptop-crashes when using the flight simulator. The old beast obviously couldn’t cope with modern graphic refresh speeds. Helicopter training thus became impossible and I decided to get rid of the “nervous” helos of my fleet. During summer I was able to sell all of my T-Rex 250 models and the yet unflown AH1 Cobra 500 to a Walloon guy who was very satisfied with them. I took the opportunity to reorganize my racks and stock the large-glider fuselages and wings in a more efficient and aesthetic way, also induced by a major change in furniture in my living room (the Blanik was away for repair at the time of the picture).

Pic 4555

The glider season started end of April and that made up for most of my 2018 flying. In addition to a few test-flights at my club TMV, I spent complete weeks or weekends at following Belgian and Dutch large glider events: Odoorn, Tongeren, Pottes, Battice, Bastogne and Sint Truiden. The Ka2 flew much better after the crash than before, the Blanik took longer to repair than anticipated but joined in time for the season highlights, The Flair Ka8b didn’t fly much because mostly it was too windy, the Fliegerland Foka4 got a new Belgian livery and became a very pleasant all-around glider. During a glider day at Petit-Enghien early July my friend towed my Twin Astir up but without telling me he tried to do that at a more scale angle using much less power. After the second turn we got slack in the cable that finally caught around the wing and caused my glider to crash vertically from about 150 meters with me having no control at all. No way to find another early Twin Astir in 4 meters so I settled using the Foka for the same job. Early September in St Truiden I opened the meet with the Foka but later that day while experimenting with the CG I made the unforgivable mistake of just after release dropping the stick to catch a fallen earphone. By the time I looked back at the Foka it was screaming downhill at a terrible speed and when I tried to recover, the port wing snapped off sending the uncontrollable Foka into a nearby garden where it luckily didn’t cause any damage. As Fliegerland was out of production for the Foka for 6 to 9 months, I ordered a 5 meter version from a French amateur constructor. Strange gliding season, no repair jobs whatsoever for a change, but two total losses were a heavy toll for an otherwise pleasant and warm summer. My only other repair was when a main gear of my B25 sheared off after the completion of a candy-drop flight. Back home I discovered why, the retracts were only held by two 5cm long beams that were glued to two adjacent frames, it already had been a wonder that they survived 5 other landings on the grass. After reinforcements the model was ready except for the engine sound system that I have trouble synchronizing with the throttle again.

At a Society of Antique Model gathering in our TMV club I got charmed by a ScheibeSF25 Falke motorglider model. My Fournier RF5b saw little use in 2018 because I mostly flew from grass fields and the single retract is too delicate for that. At times where no towships are available a motorglider with fixed gear could fill the gaps, hence my interest for that type. Talking with the German owner/producer he offers CNC short kits of other aircraft that are small enough to fit the baggage compartment of my camper, a possible Göppingen4-3 also also triggered our desires for models that are rarely seen and could be produced with Belgian markings, but I did not order because I still had six other projects awaiting in my stock room. During that SAM meet I flew my Tipsy Nipper for the 5th test flight and somebody caught it on camera. Because most of the flight consisted of high altitude stalls/spins/maneuvering/aerobatics that was too faint for the smartphone camera, he only sent me the low portion of that flight.
Nipper (2 min 42 sec)

By the end of September the electro motor of the Tipsy Nipper became more noisy as the casing rubbed against the rotor. Having a model that finally was flying well seemed too much to ask, so I got bold and decided to maiden my Pilatus PC7. That was the most uneventful maiden flight I ever encountered, I even didn’t have to touch my trims and landed as on rails. I then took my RF5b in the air and she behaved very well but the landing was less than elegant and besides having to change the shortened prop, the single wheel was at an angle so it taxied back in crab. The idea of getting it back in shape and selling that motorglider became more and more attractive.

Early October I started on the Lockheed U2A “secret project” whilst my friend started on the wings. The idea was to complete as much as we could before the Foka was delivered. During the season I also started encountering various little hardware problems with my cheap second-hand 3 year old Taranis X9D transmitter. I was hesitating between buying a new identical one or a more modern Horus X10S but limited financial means pushed me to delay that choice and finish the Foka first. During a transatlantic cruise with my father I got a mail from JPV and a week later I took delivery of the much prefabricated Foka4 close to the Belgian border in France. Work was stopped on the secret project and initiated on the Foka4, a build log about that will be published early 2019 on my blog.

After my return of the cruise another mail surprised me. The German of SAM realized he had insufficient time that winter to produce/build/testfly the Gö4-3 and after seeing my builders capabilities on my Tipsy Nipper, reading my blog about wooden models, and knowing I participated in the development flying of the pre-series Nipper, he proposed me to offer me the laser cut parts and plans for free. In return I was to write an illustrated build log in German for the well-known model magazine FMT, testfly the model and give him feedback concerning eventual changes to be made. Although my winter projects already queued up, I accepted and promised to start the Goevier as soon as the Foka was ready, but that would probably only occur shortly after New Year.

As I got tired using many different LiPo and NiMh batteries, I decided to standardise on 2S LiFe batteries for most of my receivers. For the new birds I installed High Voltage servo’s that can handle those 6,6Volts without having to install a BEC. Older models were then equipped with Graupner PRX BEC’s to protect the old servo’s. While orderings that, I looked at the transmitters again and made up my mind. To facilitate the transition and use all the spares and TX-tray, I opted for a new “old” Taranis X9D plus with the latest hard- and software, together with a few receivers that combined internally with a variometer. I really saw no use paying 3 times the price for a more recent X10S transmitter that offered little more than the proven cheap model I was used to. All these new things made 2018 an expensive year, but 5000 euro for 4 new models plus various electronics and spare parts still felt acceptable. By New Year the Foka fuselage was nearly finished and put on the rack, I was on track for an intense building winter.

Pic 742

Go back to my model chronology since the 1960’s
Or to the index pages of my blog
And don’t forget to come back early 2020 to read my 2019 activities

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