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Gliders and radio control models

Up to now I have always preferred gliders to powered models, even though I started with control line and tuned an AM25 diesel until it almost flew to pieces.

To fly a glider you need so many skills. For free flight you need to be able to interpret the wind and clouds for lift. You must design and trim the model for the mimimum glide angle and then tow and launch at exactly the right moment. I liked the mathematics of flight. If you have a slope nearby, like Ivinghoe Beacon where I flew for a while, the skills are different. You must use radio control and keep the model in the updraughts produced by the wind, going neither too low to risk landing out down on the slope nor too high to lose the model back from the slope into a down-draught.

I have done thermal soaring, both free flight and radio controlled, and RC slope soaring. There are no decent slopes in Norfolk of course but I am hoping to fly from the cliffs as soon as I have the model and the skills and the wind is between north and east.

When I started flying people didn't take many photographs. I don't have any pictures of the first five models so must rely on stock pictures.

Keil Kraft Caprice

This was my first glider. I tried to get Kenton Model Aircraft Club interested in free flight. Most members flew control line combat and speed. I organised an annual competition but it fizzled out, partly due to the fact that I always won.

Leena A/2 F1a

I flew this at the Nationals with some success. The embedded spruce spars were a pain to do but they produced perfectly smooth wing surfaces and the ribs were stronger. Wings and tailplane were covered with yellow japanese tissue. The fuselage and fin were painted blue. I used a laminated ply tongue for the wing mount that projected from the fuselage. The wings had a box that slid on, fitted between the two main spars. The tongue was radiused front and back to allow the wings to swing off either way.

Sans Egal A/2 F1a

Sans Egal

This flew beautifully and was a good test of my building skills. Flying surfaces were covered in yellow Japanese tissue and it had a painted blue fuselage.

Graupner Amigo

Amigo

Mine had yellow tissue covered wings and blue fuselage. It was excellent at Ivinghoe when there was only a very light wind, even though it had only elevator and rudder.

Graupner Cirrus

Cirrus

Mine was all-white but had tissue covered wings. It was a superb thermal soarer on rudder and all-flying tailplane. It was tricky to land as it floated for ever. I still had the wings and tailplanes and am building a new electric version with ailerons and airbrakes in the existing wings and a new carbon tube cored fuselage. Covering is yellow film from Hobby King, which I find excellent. The curvy planked fuselage will have 24 gsm glass fibre applied using Eze-Kote.

Trio

All I have of this is a plan and two wings. It was a slope soarer that could be flown with dihedral using rudder and elevator, or with a flat sheeted wing with ailerons. I flew it at Ivinghoe even with strong winds. The plan was RM151 but is no longer available from RCME.

Phoenix

Phoenix

This was my first recent attempt to fly on local fields without help. Dustbin job. I chose a foamie as I suspected it might not last long and it didn't.

Bixler 2

Bixler

Another electric foamie. It was recommended to me by Dave Wilcox as an excellent trainer. Its only shortcoming is that being a glider you don't get any training in wheeled landings, which is still my weak point.

Wot trainer

I have converted this from an IC kit. It uses an e-Flite 46 motor and details of the conversion will soon appear here to help anyone else thinking of doing the same.

ST Model Discovery

This got a good review in RCME so I though I'd try one. It went together very easily using screws rather than glue. Loads of room for the radio gear. The decals were pretty easy to handle. Even when I blundered and allowed two sticky sides to touch, I was able to separate them. The wings and rear have proved very robust but the front has taken a battering. The foam here is relatively thin and soft and a bad landing that knocks the front wheel causes damage. The supplied rudder/nosewheel servo is small and plastic-geared. A poor landing that jerks the nosewheel is also likely to damage the servo. It is a good idea to replace it with a tougher metal-geared servo.

After a crash that destroyed the nose I turned it into a tail-dragger (below). It gave me some practice with Eze-Kote, glass cloth and airbrushing, all of which were new to me. There are documents describing this on the Inventions, data and innovations page. I shortened the nose a bit so I could use 2.2Ah batteries instead of the specified 1.3 without needing balance weights.

Bix 3

This version of the Bixler has undercamber so should float well. It soon trimmed with centre of gravity a bit forward of the one specified. It is fast and responsive under full throttle, and slow and floaty when gliding. The wings are easily removable and are held down by turnbolts. This gives a lot more space for the radio equipment. So far I am very impressed.

 

Tundra

It is an interesting and attractive model that I am getting very fond of. It has very large flaps, big wheels and springy undercarriage for STOL. It went together easily, though two undercarriage (U/C) holes needed to be drilled out and one U/C leg thread was not fully cut. I don't like the way the propellor is fitted. It is a simple nut and there is no way of locking the backplate, which is mostly inside the cowl anyway. I have modified a bicycle lockring spanner by grinding it thinner, but I'm still not happy. I can see a dead-stick landing coming up when the prop flies off. The propellor is high quality and perfectly balanced. For a fuller review click here.

Here is a picture of the pilot.

 

Rudolph

After a bit of a bump I rebuilt the front of my Bixler 2 using balsa. Gave it a red nose so Rudolph was the obvious name. I removed most of the really cheap and nasty decals using strips of sellotape and then air-brushed the colour.

 

SLEC

If, like me, you like to build from scratch, one problem is getting balsa of the correct weight and grain. For people who live in or near Norfolk the answer lies in the Watton company SLEC. There is a small retail area, but to choose balsa, ply, spruce and other hardwoods you go to the milling area where they produce the sheets and other shapes from raw materials. Upstairs there is a huge selection and you are certain to find what you want. Its useful to to take a mini balance so you can match sheet weights. On my last visit I enquired about the parts cutting service. For a reasonable price they will draw up the parts and laser cut any number from selected balsa or ply. I will use this service for the ribs if I build another F1a glider. Prices generally are extremely good and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

As you enter Watton from Norwich watch out for a sign for Jewson. Turn left and you enter a small industrial estate. Turn left as you approach Jewson and you will find SLEC at the end on the left.

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(C) Peter Scott 2015

Last edit 14 June 2017