Tuesday, August 01, 2006

And The Lord Said Unto The People: "Maintain Thine Altitude And Thine Airspeed, Lest The Earth Rise Up Sharply And Smite Thee"


Well once again the dastardly CAP232 is demonstrating the reason why I named it "Lucy Quipment". Actually I stole the name from a B17 that crashed in WWII, but considering the fact that on its first several flights, something always managed to fall off or break I figured the name applied nicely. Just when I thought it might change its reputation after 30 or so successful flights, it proves me wrong again. It would seem that somehow my prop got a wee bit out of balance, (likely on my last less than textbook landing it managed to firmly contact the surface of runway one eight left), and caused the motor mount to explode like a hand grenade . . . . again . . . . . I already fixed that problem once . . . . . . I guess I didn't fix it good enough . . . . . . . . maybe it's time to buy a prop balancer, and use it frequently. It's definitely time to buy a new cowl because as you can see, mine's toast. It did look kind of nifty when the thing turned loose with a helacious clatter and it started raining chunks of plywood and fiberglass out of the sky.

"Amend Park Center, this is Papa two three two requesting emergency landing on first available runway, preferrably not the one with pieces of my cowl scattered all over it."

"Roger three two, clear on two seven right."

"Uhhhhhh . . . . . Center . . . . . there is no runway two seven right."

"Three two . . . . . . there is now!"

The resulting dead stick landing was a little hair raising, but I have a little more experience with the thing than I did last time the motor mount gave up the ghost so I managed to get it out of the sky with no further damage this time. Last time the landing gear and the wing covering suffered terribly.

Hey John and Clay, did you hear that? If you don't have a cowl in stock, get on the horn to Hyperion, you'll be hearing from me in the next few days.

RC airplanes are a constant battle from an engineering standpoint. There's a constant balancing act between strength, and weight. In this case, a little extra weight wouldn't have hurt methinks, the motor mount in this thing has always left a little something to be desired and the all up weight of this plane is only about 20 ounces. At any rate, I've already got the new motor mount figured out. The original one is far beyond repair, and I never liked it anyway so I'm starting from scratch on the new one, hopefully I can outguess whoever came up with the factory version. Not likely, but the original design already has a provision for what we call a "stick mount" . . . . . . I have a stick . . . . . . it's about to become a motor mount . . . . . . along with a little bracing so we can hopefully err on the side of strength this time.

Nic got to do more flying than the old man tonight, considering that the old man's plane had a minor malfunction seconds after takeoff.

We stopped by Abell Hobby today so I could pick up a new propeller (should have actually installed it on the airplane instead of just hauling it around in that pretty little package that it came in) and he happened to spot a free flight plane that "looked pretty cool!", as he described it, and what do you know, Dad agreed! Needless to say we took it home, Dads are funny that way.

The plane is a very realistic looking P40 Warhawk, part of the Hobbico Fly Zone lineup which is the same product line that my Sky Fly comes from. Most of the Fly Zone stuff is borderline toys, not what most purists regard as "real" hobby class models, but all of it that I've fooled around with so far is excellent quality especially when one considers the price, and all are geared towards people looking for a quick entry into flying model airplanes whether they're looking for a simple foam glider, or a full blown RC trainer that may have a prayer of surviving a few crashes if one was to choose to try and teach themselves to fly. (I wouldn't advise it unless you have a LOT of room with nothing to run into. Buying a new plane WHEN, not if, you crash is the least of your worries, stuff one through the side of somebody's house or hit some innocent bystander and you'll likely find yourself in a courtroom learning the meaning of the word negligence.)

My first plane was a Hobbico Superstar .40 with a 5 foot wingspan and a glow engine, a lot bigger than most of the stuff I'm fooling with these days. Although I had an instructor, (I shudder to think how many planes I would have cracked up had I tried to go it alone) the plane provided a rock solid platform with no bad tendencies at all, and I was able to solo with it after only a few hours of instruction on the "buddy box". After that I enjoyed countless hours committing the crime of aviation with it, until on a particularly windy day (too windy to have been flying actually) I managed to run out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas all at the same time. The wreckage still occupies a place of prominence on the top shelf of our bedroom closet, much to the dismay of my beloved bride. Will I ever fix it? Not likely, but every decade or so I cannibalize it for parts, so I really see no reason to toss it just yet. Besides, it has sentimental value.

I've yet to run into anything that Hobbico hangs their name on that I would consider junk. This nifty little airplane is no exception. For 15 bucks you get the plane, (which is easily assembled and decorated to a very realistic scale appearance with the included decals in a matter of about 15 minutes), and a "charger" that takes 4 AA batteries. Just plug the charger into the side of the plane for about a minute, flip on the motor switch, give it a gentle toss into the wind and you're flying! Granted, it's a free flight plane, but it seems to be an extremely good free flight plane and we've already got it pretty much figured out how to convert one of these things to RC. Now I see that Hobbico provides the instructions for you on their website, gee, all that head scratching for nothing. If we get one of them flying along with the benefit of an RF link to our greedy little fingers, then the REAL fun begins. They have a Japanese Zero and a German ME109 in the same series, maybe I'll have to get one of those so we can have realistic looking dogfights!

The kid thinks that idea "sounds pretty cool!" as well. I'm afraid that I'm rubbing off on him, poor kid. ;)

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