Saturday, June 19, 2010

learning to fly

Initially I was climbing up to the barn roof and jumping off. It wasn’t working. I had no problem with take off and flying to a lower elevation. Gaining altitude, sustained flight, and landing, however, were somewhat problematic. So I started to learn to fly a Radian electric sailplane. That also did not work well.

These first two shots are of a friend flying his Radian. Never a problem.

The third shot is of my sailplane just prior to the first flight. The fourth photo was taken a minute later. I gathered the scattered pieces so they all fit in the shot. The next day after using Gorilla glue to fix the fuselage, I crashed again in even less time, again breaking the fuselage in two. I was having SO much fun. This time I put the fuselage together with 5-minute epoxy even though the Gorilla glue worked fine. Remember James, from Rodeo, who got me interested in electric sailplanes while down in the Gila Mtns? Well, he was going to be passing through Chama on his way to Colorado so I decided to not fly until he got here (and anyway, I had to wait for a replacement battery). This was smart decision. One thing he told me was that the trim settings on my transmitter were way off, hence the sailplane’s urge to turn left and dive. I was also told to turn off the motor whenever the plane was low and headed towards the ground but my mind kind of freezes prior to crashes. I flew his Radian a few times and did a couple of landings. Whenever I got in trouble with the controls, I passed the transmitter to James and he got the plane straightened out. I lost track of how many times I passed the transmitter. I was given a slew of tips that should prove helpful in this endeavor. There is way more to flying an electric sailplane than I had thought and this pleases me no end. In addition to learning to fly it, I have to learn how to search for updrafts and thermals. Should be interesting hunting for something that I can’t see.

A couple days after James left, I received the replacement battery, installed it and went out to fly. My first two flights again lasted less than a minute each but at least I remembered to turn off the motor as the sailplane headed towards the ground and the landings were soft. The third flight was one I REALLY could have done without. I managed to keep the plane up but couldn’t set the trim properly. I couldn’t get it to straighten out; it just kept going into turns. With all my focus on trying to control the plane, I forgot to turn the motor off once it got up a couple hundred feet. BIG MISTAKE. By the time I realized the motor was still on, the plane was over the pine forest beyond the meadow (those trees in the first photo); I could barely see it; and I still could not control its flight. I turned the motor off; the plane soon started down behind the trees and I lost it. I spent an hour looking for it and another hour and a half the next day with not luck. Are the gods telling me something here? Anyone need a transmitter and battery charger?

James mentioned the servos that control the elevator and rudder can die in flight and you lose control of the plane through no fault of your own. He’s climbed trees to retrieve planes even though he is an excellent pilot.

I can’t believe I lost a plane. If I lose another one, I’m gonna to bag it.

I’m a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.
from the sci-fi movie Serenity

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’


spiritualastronomer said...

Kites are fairly easy - I've only lost one so far. LOL!

Emily said...

What a hoot reading this. Thanks Sebastian, for a late night laugh before hitting the sack.

Sebastian said...

You're right, Chris, I'm not having any problem flying my Vic's fighter kite.

Another sailplane is in the mail, Emily. I wonder how the sequel will read.