My Story Thus Far
So I'm still very new to all this.
I've had my first plane now for about 3 months, and after about 2 of those month trying unsuccessfully to find someone to instruct me, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After numerous crashes and repairs, I think I finally have the hang of flying. Here's my story thus far:
I bought a VMar J-3 Cub (ARF) as my first plane. A lot of people told me to put the nice little cub away and buy something made of foam. After 2 or 3 nights of assembly, I thought I was ready to fly. Took it out to the local school field, and got about 5 feet in the air and crashed it. (that story is posted around here somewhere) anyway, I decided that maybe the instructor route was the way to go. So, I went to the LHS to inquire as to who might be able to help..."Oh, just show up at the airfield on a saturday afternoon" Well, saturday afternoons are not good for me, so I tried at various points throughout the week. Best I could get in an entire month, was someone that flew it for me...Which really helped alot, because he showed me how to trim it all up and adjust the throws and all that stuff. Well, after that, another month went by before my plane was airborne again. At the airfield one day, someone put it way up in the air for me, and handed over the TX...that lasted for about 2 minutes, then the battery started to go, so he took it back and landed it for me. That was the first and last instruction I ever got.
Anyway...that two minutes gave me enough of a feel to go out and try it on my own again. The plane was balanced, trimmed and adjusted. I found a nice big open gravel field, with a bit of pavement on one end, perfect for taking off from. I drained one battery, just taxiing around, getting a feel for it, slowly gaining ground speed as i learned to keep it straight and into the wind. The second battery started out taxiing too...I was taxiing fast enough and straight enough into the wind, that the plane just lifted off on its own...only went about six inches off the ground, but it flew! I just killed the throttle, and it set gently down again! This, I thought, was truly amazing! Six inches off the ground had me grinning ear to ear. I proceeded to taxi back to my start position again, and brought the throttle up slowly to full, and the plane picked up speed, and then more speed, and gently lifted up into the air!...Success!! I was officially flying. The controls were a breeze, and once airborne, I had no problem flying. I thought landing might be difficult, but it wasn't the case...I turned into the wind and cut the throttle. Just a tiny little bit of elevator input to control the glide rate, and she floated gently back to the earth. WOW! My first solo flight, and competely 100% successful. I repeated that flight with 3 or 4 more that were just like the first...with one loop thrown in...just to see if I could.
The very next day, I went to the same place to fly again, and disaster struck...It was a little breezier that day, but not too bad. Anyway, I was on my first flight of the day, and I started to bring her down to land. I was a little bit low on my final turn, and as I turned, the plane just started to drop. I tried not to panic...I levelled out, and tried to pull up just at the last second...I did a hard "three point landing" that consisted of the engine cowling, and the main gear. I busted the cowling beyond repair, but other than that, there was no other damage. I tore off what was left of the cowling, and inspected further. I lost a 1/2oz of "sitck-on" balance weight as well. Instead of doing the smart thing, and taking it home and re-balancing it, I put it back in the air...It flew, but it was difficult to control...after 1 lap, i brought it in to land....It was about 4 feet off the ground, when the wind changed, and pushed my plane into the only obstacle in the area...a dumpster. Yes, I crashed my plane into a dumpster!
Repair time: 1 week.
The next week, I'm at it again. Flying around in the wind. got a little too close to some trees...(don't worry...i missed the trees) but to avoid them, I tried to climb, because I was too low for a sharp turn...I climbed...I stalled, I nose dived from about 40 feet in the air. The plane seemed completely demolished... I picked up all the pieces and took the walk of shame.
Instead of a repair job, I went out and bought a new plane (an e-flight mini funtana) threw my motor and hardware into it, and went out to try it out. HOLY MOTHER OF MERCY! that thing was fast!I had it in the air for all of 1 minute...none of that time resembling any kind of control.
What I should have done was take it up high and try to get a feel for it. What I did was panic and tried to land it...I flipped the flaps down to try and slow it down, and it was sort of ok, but all my inputs were more reaction than control. I was still about 10 feet up, when all of a sudden she just dove straight into the ground...my second plane destroyed in under 2 minutes. (imagine the look on my girlfriends face when I came home with a brand new broken plane. She was not pleased with me)
So, there I was...2 broken planes, no money left for another, and a very angry girlfriend.
I decided to try and piece the cub back together. The wing was actually ok, and so was the entire tail. I basically cut the front half of the fuse off, built a new one and glued it to the back half...(frankenplane?) I managed to make it successfully look like and airplane again, but it seemed so much heavier than it was before. I was a little worried.
So, Tonite, I finished her up...put the electronics back in, set it all up, and went out to the field. I was right about it being heavier, but it acutally worked out better. It flew a little bit faster than it did before, but it handles the wind ten times better, and it doesn't "balloon" when I'm trying to land anymore...My rebuild was successful. I got in 6 flights tonite with nary a mishap. I am a happy camper once again.
Next step...MINI FUNTANA REPAIR. (hopefully)
Congratulations! What a way to learn. Sounds like your models are not the ideal choice for a beginner, but now that you've got over the first few crashes and, most importantly, been able to correctly analyse (I think) what you did wrong, you should be able to progress now.
Trust us, we've ALL been down this same road at one time or another.
Teaching yourself to fly is not as easy as it looks. Get some help, at least with the initial flights and/or one of the highly recommended trainers to learn on. Alot less fustration this way.
I think I would still recommend an instructor to noobs as well. I tried and tried, with no luck. So I took matters into my own hands. All things considered, it didn't take me too long to get the hang of it. I have only tried a few times on my own...Its not like I've been at it every night for the past three months.
As far as my choice in models, the cub was actually recommended as a good trainer for me...Its not exactly a scale machine...it only sort of resembles a cub...but it is a high wing trainer with lots of dehedral...its a 4 channel, which was my choice...I have to have full control...rudder and elevator alone don't do it for me.
As for the Funtana...that was my own choice...and a bad choice for a second plane...I'll be able to repair it, but I won't take it out again, until I am sure that I am ready. I'll probably buy or build a low wing trainer next...probably build it...I'm thinking less wing span, same dehedral, for more speed, but still make it stable.
Anyway, thanks for the words of encouragement!....I'm off to go flying.
So far I haven't seen any mention of a simulator for practice. When I first started I downloaded the free FMS flight sim and practiced for a couple of weeks on the computer and when I went out for my first actual flight it seemed easy. All that crashing on the sim apparently taught me enough to pull it off without an instructor.
Even if you already have your first flights done and know the basics, a sim can still help to hone your reactions, and get you used to higher speed and more responsive planes. After four years of flying I still use a sim to practice new maneuvers.
If you don't have a sim already I highly recommend FMS, it's free and a very good sim considering the price. It can be hooked up to your transmitter if the tx has a trainer port or used with a computer joystick or game-pad. There are a number of sources for adapter cords to hook the tx to the computer.
The homepage for the FMS sim: http://n.ethz.ch/student/mmoeller/fms/index_e.html
Some more sites with more FMS info and planes. There are literally hundreds of different planes available.
And a couple of links to adapter cords:
First off, congrats on the way all this ended! Just from what I've read, it sounds to me like you are a "natural" at flying, and I think the worst is behind you already. Way to go!
Keep your speed up as you make low turns, don't stall it. Same with landings, a bit of speed as you come in to prevent it from suddenly just dropping out of the sky. But hey, I know you know this already.
I really wanted to say that I got a Funtana fairly early in my career (which is all of about 10 months long), and though I didn't pile it up right away, I did find it to be a real handfull to fly, and basically it was white knuckly flying. This after I already had put a lot of flight time in on fast, low wing, warbirds. The Funtana got about 30 flights or so, and then a radio glitch on landing piled it into the ground, where it was totalled. Fix yours, but don't fly it for a long time yet. They are way too "spirited" and fragile. Best of luck in your hobby, sounds like you are gonna have a lot of fun with it. Perhaps you can get your girl out there as well.
I want to relate a true "girlfriend story" you might find beneficial for your
Once upon a time there was a flying buddy who hung out in our shop. When he
broke something, he would scatter the parts around the shop and hang around
for hours making repairs until it was time to close up and go fly. This became a
pattern for my friend and it torked his girlfriend to no end.
One day he came running into the shop, breathlessly shouting that he needed
a replacement prop and fast. We went through the necessary search for the
prop until a heart stopping shout blasted through the shop.
"You son of a b$^%#, I have been waiting for you at that restaurant for an hour,
here you are right where I knew I ....
Well, you all have heard this before. My buddy looked at me, and without hesitation,
ducked down behind the counter and spoke up to me.
"Dick, have you got a pink airplane, any pink airplane?"
"We have one pink plane, that one," I said as I pointed overhead. Hanging from the
ceiling was a 60 inch wingspan budget hotliner with bright pink fuse and wing.
"I'll take the plane, radio, and give me two batteries, NOW!"
The plane in question came with motor and prop. With movements practiced in his
short lifetime, my buddy snatched the ARF kit radio and components from my hands
as I passed them over and flipped me a credit card. You have to understand that all
this took place in micro-seconds.
At that moment the girlfriend spotted him and stormed through the shop in our
direction. As I and other customers and employees headed for a back corner of the
shop, you could hear the muffled exclamations from the girlfriend and explanations
from our abused friend.
Suddenly, all was quiet. And as we drifted back to the center of the shop, the two
lovebirds were lost in a disquieting hug and sensuous kiss.
As we stood and watched, our friend disentangled himself from the girlfriend, and to
our delight shot us a wink over her shapely shoulder.
With as little effort as it takes to reshape your life he took her face in his hands and
said, "she loves pink", just before he kissed her.
A few days later our friend came through the door with his girlfriend and her pink
motor glider. The plane was garrishly plastered with white stars and multi-colored
glitter in swirling patterns.
She was all smiles and beaming with pride at her personal achievement with the
plane. Before anyone could say a word, our friend broke the silence.
"Well come on, close up. It's time to go fly."
Excellent "girlfirend" story, dickj. I'm quite lucky in that my girlfriend really isn't all that displeased with me and my hobby. She only gets a little frustrated after a crash, simply because I will spend every free moment I have on it until its repaired. After my last big crash, I spent every night for a week repairing the plane. I knew I was ignoring my lady, but my plane needed me. I just couldn't drag myself away. On the bright side, flying isn't so bad...She likes to come and watch me fly, as long as i'm not at it all day long. And I enjoy having her along...she's good moral support.
As far as Jagzilla's comments go, thanks for the support! As far as the turns go, you're right...I've learned to keep the speed up. I bring it up just before I turn, and with a bit of elevator, it makes a nice smooth turn with no drop in altitude. If I give it a bit off throttle after I start the turn, It seems to drag the tail behind it...which in a way, looks kinda cool, but I am going for a bit of realism in my flying for now.
As far as the landings go, I'm not having any problems with them at all...the cub glides really nicely, I just cut the throttle and deadstick it. I give it a little bit of throttle sometimes if I'm coming up short, but other than that, deadsitck landings aren't hard at all. The real problem I have is that the grass is a little too long where I have been flying lately...On touchdown, It will only roll about 10 feet, then gets hung up in the grass and flips over...but its so slow in doing so there's no damage. i know that "technically" its a crash, but I'm confident that my imaginary little pilot would walk away from it. And and landing you can walk away from is a good one...lol
Also, Jagzilla, thanks for the insight on the funtana...I'm actually thinking that when I fix it, I might flatten out the bottom of the wings a little, and add some dehedral, to slow it down a little and stablize it some. But I won't be flying it until I am completely confident that I will be able to control it.
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