The lows and highs of eflight for a newbie (all in one day). - RC Groups
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Sep 10, 2001, 08:21 AM
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f2racer's Avatar

The lows and highs of eflight for a newbie (all in one day).

Well I got my boy last, a Soarstar with a 4 Channel JR Quattro Lite, last Thursday. I spent most of Thursday late night/Friday early morning/Friday late night/Saturday early morning building the plane. My initial reactions to the kit are that 1. the kit is harder to build that I acticipated (my prior RC airplane experience was with a Cox Cessna .049 2 channel RC airplane 15 years agowhich was basically a plug the electronics in/rubberband the wing on and go model), 2. the foam on this model seem very flimsy (are all foamies like this? The Cox I mentioned above seemed to use much stronger foam), 3. 5 minute epoxy sets way too fast (I'm gonna do 10-15 minute epoxy on my next plane), and 3. the instructions really don't do a good job at explaining how to get the pushrods how they need to be to fly. Total build time was between 14 and 16 hours mostly in the middle of the night (I've got 2 young kids which makes it very difficult to do any hobbies from 6am-8pm), I'm pretty sure than if sleep depravation had not played a role, I probably could have built it in the 8-10 hours it says on the box. Anyway, on Saturday morning it was ready. I'd read some of the suggestions regarding Soarstar and Wingos on these forums, and I added a bit of packing tape to the leading edge of the wing, tail, and under the fuselage. Didn't get a chance to fly it Sat because I finished a bit late, must wait for tomorrow.

Saturday morning, my wife decides to haul her *ss out of bed around 8:30am and the wind is starting to pick up. I jump into my car and head directly to a medium size field (approximately the size of 3 soccer fields). Check the radio from 100 feet. CG seems to be where the manual says it should be. Full throttle and I toss her into the sky with between 5-10 mph winds. The plane speeds away going much faster than I anticipated. I cut the throttle, and initiate a turn forgetting that pushers turn much better with some engine speed. The wing tips, and the nose tips as the plane stalls at about 25 feet from the ground. I punch the throttle and give it full elevator. It's no use, although not at full speed, the impact was pretty bad. The wing is broken down the middle, the wing dowel was ripped from the fuselage, the rudder broke from the tail assembly, and probably the worst thing was that the tail boon snapped in 2 places. I'm thinking at this point I spent over $300 for this POS? Realizing that I had made every beginner mistake possible (cutting the throttle all the way and trying to turn, as well as being way to generous with the controls) I decide right then and there that I'd fly no matter how much it cost and how long it took.

I spent the next 4-6 hours that Sunday repairing the plane. Wing went together with epoxy (now this is what I would use 5 minute epoxy for), tail boon was epoxyed and had thin plywood reinforcements attached on all 4 sides. Various foam issues were repaired with either epoxy or elmers white glue. I then started in with the packing tape. The entire rear fuselage was taped due to some propeller damage from the wing breaking. I reinforced some places on plane with a light coat of epoxy or white glue. It actually went back together pretty good. Doesn't quite look as good as new but hey I'm pretty sure it'll fly.

Around 2-3pm, I take the plane into the street in front of my house. I taxi it around to make sure that the plane is structurally intact. I'm pretty surprised by how quick the plane was to turn on the ground. I do this for an entire battery, picking up enough speed that the plane starts skipping into the air with no elevator.

Around 7pm, I decide to take the kids to scout for a new flying location. I bring the plane just in case. I find a parking lot for a local community college is big and empty. I get the plane out as the kids play in the car. I taxi her around a bit, but I'm kinda afraid to fly after that mornings episode (plus there was a bit of wind 5-10mph). After about 5 minutes of cruising around (again some skipping around at higher speeds as well) I figure out that the plane is pulling way to hard to the rigt and I trim it accordingly. What the hell, you only live once, I gave it full throttle and the plane wizzed into the air. The plane got about 8 feet high and it completely cut the power. There was a gust of wind and the plane gained another 8 feet, standing still, I give it down elevator and push throttle to about 1/3. I land the plane into the wind like this. I do this a couple more times ROG, plane jumps into the air, cut the power to about 1/4 and land. I then proceed to get it a bit higher and try out some turns. Full throttle jumps into the air, I reduce throttle to about 1/2 and it's still climbing at almost a 20 degree angle, but climbing relatively straight (I never thought that you could trim on the ground, but hey I'll take it). I do several turns successfully. Plane seems really twitchy (I've checked that all the controls travel as far as the manual states), but I'm capable of keeping it in the air by only "touching" the controls, only scaring myself once when I turned too hard maybe 25 feet from the ground. This time I full throttled and gave it full up elevator and it litteraly whipped the plane from about 4 feet to 45 feet in about 3 seconds. I ended this session with another crash though. I had the plane flying about 150 yards out. I got pretty disoriented at this distance. I was doing circles, but I must have turned a bit too hard as it started to spiral down. I gave it full elevator and punched the rudder in the opposite direction just in time. I plane flaired at about 3 feet or so, stalled and landed nose down tail in the sky. No damage on that crash though.

Go figure I go to a nice big grass field and end up with a busted plane. I go to an entirely paved parking lot and I'm flying! I'm hooked now. Gonna try to fly as often as possible. Do have a couple of questions though. The plane seems to react REAL quick to any input (I've learned not to go more than 1/4 on the RC transmitter), I've check the control travel and it's what the book says they should be. Should I lessen the travel? Also the plane is pretty sensitive to wind (plus I pretty new at this) can anybody give some advice as to how to fly in the wind?

All in all I've had a massively devestating and joyous 10 hours. I'm probably going to buy a Poppy for spare parts, and maybe a Lightstik as well, since the Soarstar moves much faster than I thought it would.

Just had to share!
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Sep 10, 2001, 09:00 AM
tic's Avatar
Thanks for sharing!.. great story.. I think we all have somewhat of a similar experience when starting out.. The common denominator being the addictive nature of the hobby.. I initially wanted to get into the hobby for very little money and quickly found out that's not possible.. It seems one is always in need of "something" relating to the plane(s)...and the dollars quickly add up..However, that said, there is little that compares with going out first thing in the morning, no wind, sun just rising, sitting in a portable chair and having a 15min.perfect flight w/ your plane. It's very rewarding and, for me anyway, well worth the dissappointments and money spent. Oh, don't expect the wife to understand,you'll be lucky if you even get her out to the field and then the typical response will be "and this is what you're so excited about?"..someone else put it very nicely when they said something like "we like mechanical things, things that fly.Women?, they like shoes...." I know a guy who's wife threw an iron at his r/c plane after a fight they had, she hit it too!..sounds funny, but at the time, I'm sure it wasn't.. Good luck on your future flights.
Sep 10, 2001, 09:06 AM
Registered User
Congrats on your successes!

If you've done a lot of repair/reinforcement in the tail area you might want to recheck the CG if you haven't done so already. If the CG is just a little too far back the plane gets twitchy and sensitive to the controls. If it's further back the plane becomes uncontrollable.

Generally just nudging the sticks is the way to go. Sort of like the steering wheel in your car, usually you just move it a little bit.
Sep 10, 2001, 09:18 AM
Visitor from Reality
Even allowing for your strained working conditions, I reckon you've done pretty well so far.

I totalled out three glider models and a glow trainer trying to teach myself to fly, before I wised up and found someone to teach me how. He did an amazing job too, considering the material he was working with.

Crashing - in this supersafe world of airbags in the glove locker, it is a totally random sub-sport of aeromodelling. People have lost site of models around cars, trees, hills, the Rockies and probably the moon, and found their model safe after making its best landing ever without their help.

OTOH, a friend of mine undershot an otherwise good approach to a regular glow site, on a calm day, with good vis - and swiped the cylinder head completely off a brand new large four cycle engine. Totalled the engine at a cost around my yearly hobby budget.

Yes, basically, you got lucky.

To the newbie at RC, anything faster than a blimp will appear to travel at blistering speed, accelerating even more as you get further behind. This is perfectly normal and happens even with an instructor at a large field with something as fast as a Sig Kadet.

An inherent problem with teaching yourself to fly is that your instructor knows absolutely diddley and panics at the first sign of a turn

Your building time. I'm not real qualified here, as children are an utter mystery to me - though my old Boxer dog does sometimes sleep in my workshop - but can't they be told to stay out of your way for a specified period of time? Best I figure, you and wife should be in charge here. If they get everything they want now, it's probably no big deal, but what happens when they make 18 and want a BMW to go with their driving licence?

More important - you have discovered that epoxy works in direct opposition to whatever you need for a task.

One general rule - there ain't no such thing as five minute epoxy. If you're in a rush, it will take ten, if not, it might make 6 or 7. You need slow, you'll only have 5 ( 7 - 10) minute epoxy). Need fast? You'll have 10 (15 - 20) minute and it WILL be 7PM on a calm Saturday when the store is shut.

There's some evidence that 5 (6 -10) min will go off in less when it realises that you set the repair up with a humungous warp or twist in the piece.

Welcome to aeromodelling. If you last another 10 years, we'll maybe stop refering to you as "that new guy" I've been at it for approx 45 years, and actually know a couple of aeromodellers who are younger than me.


Sep 10, 2001, 11:22 AM
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f2racer's Avatar
Originally posted by Dereck:

Your building time. I'm not real qualified here, as children are an utter mystery to me - though my old Boxer dog does sometimes sleep in my workshop - but can't they be told to stay out of your way for a specified period of time? Best I figure, you and wife should be in charge here. If they get everything they want now, it's probably no big deal, but what happens when they make 18 and want a BMW to go with their driving licence?

I got an old boxer (8 years old) as well. She kept me company during my all night build out. I'm a pretty involved dad (except for last Thursday through Sunday, although my daughter (4) was thrilled to see the plane fly, my son (1 and 1/2) had more fun sitting in the drivers seat of the Explorer while I flew).

Regarding the plane, even in medium (5-10mph) winds I found the plane to be extremely reponsive. I was able to do 25 foot diameter circles by nudging the rudder and elevator, it was pretty close to how I fly FMS with the keyboard ! Anyhow, my wife is relatively happy, my other hobby is performance cars, she's lived through a breathed on 94 Mustang GT (makes about 260 or so at the rear wheels) and two 93 RX-7s (the first made 250 on the dyno, but weighed in almost 750 lbs lighter than the Stang, the second hasn't been to the dyno but feels even faster). RC Airplanes will probably cost me a fraction of my old hobby.

My prior experience with the Cox killed my involvement with the sport for over 14 years (I was in high school back then and had 3 unsuccessful flights, I was never ever in control, before the plane was damaged beyond repair). I decided to jump back in only after I knew that I could afford to squander $400+ and I understood the dynamics of flight a little better (believe it or not, flight simulators such as Falcon and WWII Fighter helped dramatically even though this is only a rudder/elevator model, they helped even more than FMS believe it or not).

The amazing thing about this flight was that I really felt like I was in control of the plane. Although it banked into turns much faster than I imagined it would, and the wind buffeted the airplane quite a bit, I only felt out of control twice while flying. And although the plane seemed twitchy and nervous. I was quite able to control it between 20-40 feet high (I know, most people recommend that you get at least 100-200 feet as a beginner, but I was afraid that I'd loose sight of it).

I will try making the rudder travel less as well as moving the CG forward just a tad on my next flight. If I pressed the rudder hard, I found that it would drop it's wing quite a bit and whip around. If it's as good as the first I'll be enormously happy. I'll also try to fly her on a less windy day so that I won't have to fight the wind as much (although it was kinda fun to fly into the wind at 1/3-1/2 throttle and watch the plane kinda hover in the air). I'm guessing that with more practice, I'll get even better at controlling the plane, it's just kinda hard to get used to the sensitivity of the controls as well as watching it go from a something I can see and just a spec in the sky in only 5-10 seconds.

I'm actually quite happy about my purchase. The plane and radio cost all of 246 delivered from Horizon Hobby and the radio is a 4 channel unit rather than the 3 channel HiTecs which come with other combos (so I should be able to use it with my next couple of planes)... I will probably get a a Poppy for spair parts, or maybe try a Wingo since I already have the geared motor and speed controller.
Sep 10, 2001, 11:53 AM
Registered User
re turns, the large poly hedral causes a problem turning from down to up wind. to turn, add a little power plus a little up to a little rudder. get an instructor if possible. on a "windless" day, turn off the motor and see how it glides. that is the way to get the basic trim done.
if you put in too much rudder (alone) you get the "death spiral". if high enough, just let everything go.