Authored by Dan Knippen
Here it is March and many of us can’t wait to get out and get some quality flying in, no matter what kind it is. As I’m writing this in February, I hope the weather is better than now. I will have new wings completed for the first Edge, and possibly a Foamy as well. Some of you will be flying old planes and some will be breaking in new planes. Oops! I didn’t mean it like that! For me it will be a new and Improved Carden Edge. Whether you’re flying something new, or old, 40 sized or a 40 % you will need to thoroughly check it out before you venture into the new season. To me batteries for the transmitter and receiver are the most important things to start with. Many people have been rather lucky when it comes to batteries. Proper maintenance and charging are very important. I’m sure at one time or another many of us have lost a plane because we thought we could get one more season without buying a new battery. I’m one who has learned the hard way at least once. With all the new and different batteries that are on the market now, make sure you have the right chargers and follow the proper charging procedures. With the bigger aerobatic planes the price of batteries are a small price to pay when you have a few thousand dollars invested. Always date your batteries and as a rule after two flying seasons I will retire them especially if you fly the same plane most of the time as I do.
The next thing you should do is replace your fuel tank stoppers, and if you’re flying a gas engine replace the Tygon type fuel line in and out of the tank as well. Over a period of time the stoppers and fuel line become hard and don’t flex. Probably two things could happen here if you’re flying. One, the stopper falls out and if the plane has foam construction it will be eaten by the time you land. Gas loves eating foam (Don’t ask how I know this)! If the stopper doesn’t fall out and you roll to inverted, it’s likely that a few seconds later you will wonder why your engine quit. Well it’s probably because your fuel tubing is petrified at the bottom of your fuel tank, which is now the top, and is sucking air instead of gas. I was lucky when my fuel stopper once popped out. I was on the ground refueling for what seemed like forever until I saw the evidence pouring from the tail wheel.
When you get to the field and before flying you need to check your batteries, get the frequency pin, and then check to make sure you’re on the correct model (if you have a computer radio) and all the control surfaces are working in the right direction. There is not a person in our club that hasn’t come close to, or possibly lost their plane to “Mr. Haste”. I’m one of those people as well (Me too LeRoy). I lost my 33% Laser 4 years ago because I was in a big hurry because it was getting late. I forgot to hook up the Ailerons or even take the time to check my surfaces. Big mistake! Needless to say big planes don’t fly well with only rudder and elevator.
Before you fly the first time you will need someone to help you do a range check with your antenna down. Don’t ask me how or why, but funny things sometimes happen when you haven’t flown your plane in a while. If there is a problem, most likely it’s something you forgot, or a switch in the wrong position. If you’re flying with a gas engine, have the engine running while someone is holding your plane. You’re looking to make sure there are no glitches or interference between the receiver and batteries. Actually, I see guys range check their planes every time they go out flying which is really not a bad practice to get into (The AMA safety code calls for this each time before the first flight of the day LeRoy). There are always people at the field that will be more than glad to help you out with just about anything. It is always a good day when you can go home and your plane is not in a Glad Bag. I could go on much more about this subject but most of us should know these things and have some sort of pattern we follow. If you have any doubts, or questions, please ask someone. Another thing is Maintenance after a day of flying. If you have a lot invested it is a must for your plane’s survival.
The next thing I would like to cover is learning and flying an actual aerobatic maneuver. YEA! We will start with the easier maneuvers and work our way to the more difficult ones. For learning purposes it will be a perfect day with no wind to deal with for this day.
This month we will cover the Loop. As you know a plane that is more suited for aerobatic flying will do much better. If you’re flying a 60size trainer with an underpowered 60size engine don’t even attempt it you’ll only get discouraged. In IMAC, we will no longer have to fly the maneuvers in the center box as of 2005. We will be flying in what is called a “Zoneless box”. We will be flying the zoneless box at our IMAC contest this year as most other IMAC contest throughout the states in 2004. This subject will be covered later in more detail. For those who have not yet flown much IMAC before, the Zoneless Box flying will come easy as compared to people like Dave Genovese, Bob Carroll and myself. But to get a better presentation on how to learn the loop we will fly it as a center maneuver. It will also help you and your spotter observe the loop as you are flying it. You could be flying a goose egg loop and not even know it. Lets begin flying from left to right. If there were any wind you would do better by flying into the wind. As you approach the center of the box you want your plane far enough out and at a comfortable altitude around 100 feet. The altitude we start at will also be the altitude we want to end the maneuver at! Before you reach center you want to be on a straight line and wings perfectly level with no wind. When you finally reach center advance your throttle to full and gradually pull up elevator to establish the first part of the loop’s radius. You want to maintain the same radius and air speed throughout the entire loop. As you go beyond the first 1/4 of the loop in most cases your plane will begin to lose power. In order to maintain that beautiful radius you will now have to push a little DOWN elevator. When you reach the top of the loop the plane should be directly in front of you. Continue to keep a little down elevator until you go beyond center and begin to pick up air speed. You do not want to pull elevator yet or your loop will now be a goose egg. This is where most beginners have a problem. As the plane gains speed you can now pull very little up elevator to keep the radius and start reducing the throttle to keep from gaining too much speed. You’re now at the 3/4 point of the loop, elevator should be at the neutral position for a second, chop the throttle and begin to gradually pull up elevator for the last 1/4 of your loop as you also gradually advance the throttle to attain the same airspeed that you started with. Congratulations, you have now completed your first loop and keep that straight line for the next maneuver.
Situations that can happen when starting your loop is the torque of the engine( P factor) will make your plane want to yaw to the left on your up line. To keep the first half of the loop straight you will need to apply a little right rudder. I know we said no wind today but tomorrow there may be a cross wind to make it more interesting. “Mr. Rudder” on the first and second half of the loop will be the one thing that will help make your loop score well. Always try to have someone with you to help you through these maneuvers. You have a lot going on and it’s hard to get a true perspective on how you’re flying the maneuver. That’s it for now! Next month will cover some more maneuvers. For those who want to know why their plane flies like a Gooney Bird or an unbalanced Blimp and would like it to fly like a hawk, you can go to www.nsrca.org Click on “Technical menu”, then “Airplane trimming”. This will explain how to trim your plane.