Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dreaming Of Calm Wind In The Morning

I worked Friday night and therefore missed out on one of what is likely the last two nice weekend days of the year for flying. The weather was beautiful this morning, and from the line of vehicles parked on our makeshift flightline at Amend Park as I drove by on the Interstate on my way back into town from Butte, quite a few of my flying buddies took advantage of it. I was really itching to get something in the air this afternoon when I woke up from my nap, but decided to concentrate my efforts on tomorrow instead. Most all of my aircraft were in need of some kind of attention, so I spent the afternoon tieing up some loose ends in preparation for what looks to be another fine day tomorrow.

  • The ground handling on the Cub sucks. There's just no other way of putting it. At first I thought it was just me and I just needed to get used to the thing, but after the utterly frightening and equally embarrassing takeoff I had Friday, I decided that something must be wrong with it. Dick has the same plane, and he says that for a Cub his ground handling is awesome, and I've never had this much trouble getting any of my other planes off of the ground. Hopefully I found the problem today. Taildraggers tend to respond favorably when the wheels on the main gear have a little toe in. That way if one wheel tries to get ahead of the other one, it turns sideways and acts like a brake pulling itself back in line and keeping the aircraft tracking straight down the runway in the process. A disassembly and close examination of my landing gear today showed that I had one wheel toed in, and the other was toed out. As a result, the whole airplane had to dog track to the left going down the runway to stay in a straight line. No wonder it wanted to ground loop so bad. After a whole lot of tweaking and measuring and retweaking and remeasuring, it now has about 3 degrees of toe in, equal on both wheels. We'll see if that makes a difference.

  • The CAP is getting mighty nose heavy. After my numerous "firm arrivals" and resulting repairs to the landing gear bracing and motor mount the CAP232 has taken on some considerable nose weight. We have a saying in this hobby, "Nose heavy planes fly poorly, tail heavy planes fly once". Actually it doesn't fly all that bad, but it has to be going like a striped assed ape to land without bouncing like a pogo stick on crack. Getting the CG back to where it's supposed to be would no doubt make it a bit more responsive as well as easier to coax back to terra firma in one piece. First I replaced the busted tail wheel to not only improve the ground handling but to add a little weight to the tail to neutralize some of the nose weight. It broke off a month or so ago, but since I haven't been flying it much since I got my Cub I haven't bothered to fix it, I just stuck a piece of tape to the bottom of the rudder to keep it from getting beat up and called it good. I put a new one on it today, as well as hogging some excess wood out of various areas ahead of the CG (center of gravity) with my Dremel. It's still a bit nose heavy, but no doubt a lot better than it was. Most of the screw holes for affixing the cowl and canopy were getting wallowed out, a little thin CA applied to them tightened the fit right back up. This is a fun little plane and I have no intention of writing it off just yet. Hopefully it'll get a little air time tomorrow.

  • The Mugi is a bitch to hand launch. I've got some video of some of my less successful attempts, I doubt I'll ever show it here. I may send it in to one of those funniest home video shows and see if I can win some cash, but I won't show it here. Let's just say it's a good thing that the Mugi is double tough. Eric has a Great Planes XPD-8 (check out the claims of only 56 MPH on the site, Eric's has been clocked at 77 on Dick's radar gun, but that isn't with the stock motor either) ducted fan flying wing that's a bitch to hand launch as well. This type of aircraft is basically overpowered as far as pitch speed is concerned, but not from a torque perspective. They can't muscle themselves up off of the ground like a 3D capable plane can, they're more about flat out speed than raw displays of power. It's sort of like trying to take off with your car in high gear, if you could get it rolling first you'd be fine, but from a dead stop it doesn't work all that great. Since the aircraft equivalent of a transmission is a variable pitch prop, which I don't have, I don't have any choice but to get the speed up somehow before leaving the ground or go to a prop with less pitch and lose a considerable amount of top speed in the process. Most flying wings don't have landing gear, but if they did they'd need a rather substantial takeoff run to get airborne. I could add landing gear, and the takeoff run wouldn't be a problem at our field, but that's a lot of weight and more importantly, drag. Most of what makes this thing so fun is the phenomenal speeds that it attains, so adding drag would be defeating the purpose. Anyway, Eric uses a piece of rubber surgical tubing to bungee launch his, but there has to be a suitable hook on the bottom of the aircraft, ahead of the CG, to attach the bungee to. The Mugi now has one, a tow hook that is, anchored to the carbon fiber internal wing spar for strength, and coming out of the belly of the beast a few inches behind the nose. Hopefully Eric is there in the morning, since he said he had an extra piece of tubing that I could have. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

  • The Sky Fly works just fine. Like I've said over and over again, for less than a hundred bucks, it's a damn hard plane to beat! I don't get paid to brag this thing up or anything, it's just nice to find a product from time to time that's an excellent value and lives up to its claims and then some. However, if anyone at Hobbico had a few extra bucks laying around . . . . . . ;)

So hopefully it's off to the park in the morning. I hope everyone else is enjoying the beautiful weather as well, since it'll likely be a long winter before we see anything like it again. It's possible that we may have several really nice weekends before winter, but I'm not taking any chances.

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