Jul 30, 2009

Parkzone Sukhoi 26m - Review

I preorderd my Parkzone Sukhoi 26m back in February, and I've waited with great anticipation the day that I could fly this little airplane. That day has come and gone, I recieved my plane on the 15th of July, and I promptly opened the box, snapped on the landing gear, charged the battery, and bound it with my transmitter.

Taking it out to the sidewalk I taxied about 5 feet, hit a small crack in the sidewalk, the prop ticked the cement and snapped off. Oh, hmm maybe that is why they include an extra prop in the box. Taking a closer look back on the work bench, there is 7/16th of an inch between the prop and the ground. That is not the best for prop clearance, but beggers can't be choosers...

I waited for a nice calm evening for the first flight, I setup my controls per the instructions on the Horizon Hobby website, put my battery in the aft position, and gave the plane a gentle toss, straight into the ground. Odd! I was pretty sure I'd thrown it up, and all the controll surfaces where working correctly... I tried again, and managed to pull it out of a dive and get it to fly, kind of, it was very wickedly twitchy! After landing, I went inside and did some research on the forums. It appeared that many people were having the same issue, and it just so happens to be c.g. related. This plane appears to be nose heavy. I immediatlely wrote to Horizon's product support folks, and I got an affirmative reply a few days later.

"Thank you for your recent email. You are correct, the Su-26 is noseheavy. If you would like the aircraft to have a more aft CG for yourpersonal fly preference, I would encourage it. Some people are movingthe PC boards back, cutting an extra channel into the plane to move thebattery back, and even adding very small tail weight."

Exactly what I'd read on the forums, but all I'd tried was the tail weight, I don't like chopping up brand new airplanes. Well, needless to say this is all slightly frustrating. However, my little airplane seemed doomed. On about it's 10th flight of the evening, after I had corrected the c.g. issue, my little plane lost its bind with my transmitter, after a flight. The rudder went into a full right position, and it was not binding, no matter what I tried. I took it back to the garage and started by pulling the batteries from the plane, and the transmitter, and then binding. This worked after 6 tries. All my control surfaces worked, except for the rudder channel, so I gingerly cut the decal on my plane and looked inside. The linear servo has a carriage that goes back and forth that the control rod connects to, this was forced to the front of the worm drive. I took the battery off and moved the gear on the front of the worm drive, it wasn't stuck at all, so I recentered my control surface by spinning the gear. Figuring that it'd be fixed, I turned on my transmitter, plugged in the battery and the linear servo ran at full tilt and a little puff of smoke emitted from the servo motor. :(

Now my plane is on its way back for repair or replacement. So far it's been a frustrating little airplane, but I'm anticipating much less problems with my next little Sukhoi!

Jun 24, 2009

Why the long blog name?

Some folks have inquired why I have such a long blog name. When I went to register my blog name the short names that made sense and were easy to remember were already taken. Here is a short list of blogs that could have been mine. I encourage you to take a look at these, these folks have really done some great work.

http://modelairplane.blogspot.com/ (Apparently the guy who writes this site has more money than brains, "This is my new sit on Model Airplanes")

This list could also serve as a list of the six lamest model airplane blogs...

Hmmm! Something just occurred to me. It seems that many people have thought it would be cool to blog about model airplanes, however in practice not many folks really do it. I should be proud that I at least post something to my blog. As for the name, I might try writing to these people and see if they'll release their blog names so people who choose to actually write something can use them.

May 26, 2009

Hobby Zone Super Cub

This Memorial Day weekend I got a chance to fly my brother-in-law's well used Hobby Zone Super Cub. Although small parts of the wing tips have broken off, the prop nut is missing, and the motor has a bad vibration, it still flies amazingly well. The plane is three channel, but it does fairly well in light wind. It offers scale flight characteristics and it appears that after two years of flight this plane is one tough bird.

I put in several flights over the course of two days, and I thoroughly enjoyed the flying. Thankfully my brother-in-law is an easy going generous fellow that trusts my fumble flying fingers.

May 9, 2009

Electric Flight Tote

A wide variety of flight totes are available to modelers, however, I've found that most are better suited to for large gas models. Small electrics and park flyers have a host of support equipment that just can't be organized by a few plywood dividers in small wooden flight tote. I've owned more than one wooden tote, and a few plastic toolboxes, but I never found anything that I felt really worked well. Everything always seemed disorganized, and the box never seemed quite large enough.

Finaly, I found the solution. Browsing the isles of the local hardware store, I found an electricians toolbox. This toolbox is made by Custom Leather Craft, and its made from rugged nylon canvas. It has many small pockets, large pockets, and the middle is all open. Most of the pockets are very small, which typically works well, however I removed a few stiches between pockets here and there for some larger items.
There is enough room for my transmitter case, charger, tools, spare parts, rubber bands and more. Here are a few pictures of my flight tote.

Apr 21, 2009

Aileron Fairings

After my rough landing with the Easy Glider, I started looking for a solution to the problem with the aileron servo control arms hanging too far down. At first I tried to find a way to shorten the control arms, but I couldn't get enough control throw. Searching on the internet yielded an interesting solution, PVC aileron fairings that would entirely cover the aileron servo arm, and pushrod. I ordered a set and then I had to find time to install them.

They come molded together on one PVC sheet and they must be cut apart. I delicately cut them apart and sanded the edges. I pondered how to attach them to the wing, and I finally decided on clear packing tape. This worked quiet well, two strips of tape on either side, and one small piece of tape on the front of the fairing supplied all the holding power needed.
Yesterday, I took it on a test flight, and landed in a field of tall grass. I inspected the planes final resting spot, and it looked like the fairings had deflected a fair amount of grass. It looks like I won't be having any more troubles with the aileron arms and stripped servos for a while.

Apr 2, 2009

Indoor Diversion - Venom R\C's Micro Rescue Heli

A year or so stopped by the hobby booth at the local airshow, and made an impulse purchase of my first ever micro heli. Now micro heli's are almost everywhere, and I've had opportunity to play with a few. Some of these little heli's are heavier than others, and some are better constructed and more durable, but all are loads of fun. They are designed to be flown indoors with an infrared transmitter, providing an up close flying experience.

These little helicopters are all two channel, one channel is to control the speed of the fixed main rotor (lift), and the other controls the tail rotor (yaw). They are weighted in the nose to keep them moving forward while flying. My heli didn't move forward very fast, so I placed scotch tape between the skids to deflect the rotor wash and create some more forward movement. This works quite well, though it adds a little weight, and when your this small, any weight is your enemy.

If your in the market for a micro heli, I'd probably be more inclined to recommend one of the Airhog micro heli's over this Venom Micro Rescue. The Venom is too heavy with its plastic shell, making flight times short, and it seems to lack decent forward motion, without modification.

Mar 29, 2009

Rough Landings

The other day I was flying my Easy Glider, and I experienced a "rough landing" on a gravel road that runs through a farmers field. I was cutting across the road, attempting to land in the field, but I ran out of sky, and found myself landing directly on gravel with foam airplane. Amazingly, the foam was fine, but my right aileron servo arm touched a rock, which caused it to strip a gear.

This is the the part of model airplane flying that some people love! I don't love it, I deal with it. I spent a good 6 hours between Friday and Saturday fixing the problem. First I had to remove the servo from the wing pocket by gingerly cutting the glue from the foam. Next I took the servo apart, and replaced the stripped gears with some extra gears I had lying around. Hooking everything back up, I noticed that the servos were not centering correctly. The only way to fix that is to take the servo apart again. Every thing looked fine, so I went online and read about servo problems. Amazingly, I found a forum that was more than helpful. It looked like the gunk I'd put between the gears may have gotten into the servo pot? Taking the servo pot apart, I cleaned it with alcohol on a cotton swab, and reassembled everything. Now the servo was centering correctly, so I put it back into the airplane. However, now I can't seem to get my control throws correct, even though I have the mechanical linkage exactly the same as my left aileron. Maybe its the servo? I get a new servo and hook it up and place it in the wing, and I still have the same problem. Maybe its a setting in my computer radio? I spent 45 minutes looking through the radios instruction manual, everything there is fine. Finally, I give up and place the fixed old servo back in the plane and glue it in place. To make up for the 3mm of control throw that I can't get through the mechanical linkage, I resort to setting 120% end point adjustments in my computer radio.

Maybe I'm just to particular... Anyhow, the airplanes as good as new, and I've ordered wing tip skids, and aileron control rod fairings to protect the long servo arms, lest we have another mishap. The lesson to be had here, is that this hobby has its more frustrating moments, just like everything else in life.

Mar 14, 2009

Parkzone Sukhoi Su-26m BNF

Parkzone has unveiled their latest bind and fly micro airplane. The Parkzone Sukhoi is the first 4 channel plane offered in the popular Etomic series. This is a fully areobatically capable airplane, although it isn't supposed to have enough power to do 3D manuvers. It boasts a 110 mah battery, for long flight times. The plane is going to be offered for $99.00 for the BNF version and $129.00 for the package with the transmitter.

They aren't on the store shelves yet, but this looks to be one incredible little airplane, so my wonderful wife is going to have to preorder me one :) When I take possestion of my new airplane, I'll be sure to follow up with a review.

Mar 11, 2009

Parkzone - Vapor

The Parkzone Vapor is an amazing model. With its thin film covering stretched over carbon fiber rods it looks like a strange yellow butterfly. It's light as a feather, yet strong enough to withstand a decent amount of crash abuse. Weighing in at .5 oz this little plane packs in 3 channel control and loads of fun.

Although it is really meant to be flown indoors, on calm days it is an absolute blast to fly outdoors. I've used it as a glider, taking it over the roof of the house to catch rising heat on hot days. Be careful though, this plane can get out of sight quickly!

To top it all of, this is one of Parkzone's bind and fly models, so you can link it to an existing DSM2 transmitter and your ready to fly, or purchase it with a transmitter.

It's a reasonable, resilient little plane that keeps me interested in flying it regularly. Well worth the money!

Mar 6, 2009

Spectrum DX6i

Airplane radios provide the vital link between the pilot and their plane. Traditionally, aircraft radios have been on the 72mhz band which has been dedicated by the FCC to the hobby. However, the last few years have brought great change with the advent of first 2.4ghz for park fliers, and eventually 2.4ghz for larger planes requiring full range use.

I loved my Hitec Optic 6 and I was patiently waiting for Hitec to come out with 2.4ghz gear, which they have finally done, but the Spectrum DX6i caught my eye! It seemed to have the right balance of functionality and affordability that I strive for in this hobby. Not being able to contain myself any longer, I sold my Optic 6 on RC Universe classifieds and used the money to purchase the Spectrum DX6i.

The DX6i is a full range computer radio that can be used for airplanes or helicopters. I'd like to highlight some of the things that I didn't realize I was missing untill I purchased this transmitter.

Model match is a great feature on this radio that keeps you from flying the wrong plane, with the wrong programming. As dumb as it may be, I grabbed the wrong airplane program on my Optic 6, I had reversed controls but somehow I got the plane down safely! Now I couldn't do with out this feature.

NiCad 8-cell rechargable battery packs for radios are pain. If your transmitter battery is low, you can forget about flying untill you charge it, unless you pack a spare, and oh yah your spare better have a charge. That's how it used to be, now with the DX6i you have options. The battery compartment opens to reveal 4 AA battery slots, which will take either rechargable batteries, or disposables. And of course the transmitter comes with a charger so you can still recharge your batteries through the controller. It comes complete with 4 NiMh batteries, and I can tell you that the battery life is incredibly long compared to all the 72mhz radios I have used.

Short, stubby, rugged, and bendable is how I'd describe the 2.4ghz antenna. No more metal fishing pole or lightning rod to deal with. No more forgetting to put your antenna up. And most importantly, no spot to clip those frequency pins.

Bind and Fly models are available to owners of the DX6i. No building, just take them out of the box, bind them to my transmitter and start flying. What's not to love.

This transmitter has liberated me from so much! Granted all is not perfect. The heat of the sun losened the plexiglass on the display, and I had to glue it back on. And I wish the flaps were on a dial not a switch. Other than that, this transmitter hasn't given me much to comlain about. I'd most definetly recommend it to anyone looking for a 6 channel 2.4ghz transmitter.

Mar 1, 2009

My Multiplex Elapor Story - Easy Glider Crash

It was Thanksgiving Day 2008 and the visiting relatives, not bothered by the foul weather, wanted to see the Easy Glider fly. So, I headed off to the nearest flying site, a football field, brother and brother-in-law in tow.

With a gentle throw, my Easy Glider was air born, sailing skyward. After 10 minutes or so of avoiding all the obstacles around the football field, I decided to bring the plane back to good olterra firma. My competitive spirit kicked in as my brother said “I bet you can’t bring that plane right between the goal posts uprights when you land.” I started landing, aiming the plane right between the goal posts. Shortly thereafter, the plane’s left wing hit the goal post, 4” from the tip. My plane went into a spiral smacking the ground with a thud. I thought Thanksgiving was ruined.

Running over to the plane, I was relieved to find that the only damage was a little dent in the leading edge of the wing, and a broken canopy latch from the force of the impact. I popped the canopy back on and did one more quick flight, before heading home. Any other plane would have lost a wing.

Feb 28, 2009

Cessna Minimum at the Park

I traded a Falcoln 40 helicopter, for a Parkzone Cessna 210 Centurion on craigslist, and it was the best trade I've ever made. Admittedly, when I handed over my pristine Falcoln 40 with its polished canopy, in return for a glue encrusted little airplane in pieces in a shoebox, I had my doubts. I spent an entire evening working the Cessna into shape, and I was overjoyed to see it would actually fly!

This little airplane has become my everyday flier. It's tiny, I fly it in the vacant lot next to the house, at the park, at work, and anywhere else I feel the urge to fly. It handles a few gusts of wind, and the little 70mah batteries give flight times of about 10 minutes. On top of it all, this little micro has a nice scale look when flying.

This video is of the little Cessna fighting gusts of wind at the park.

Feb 26, 2009

Hitec Optic 6 - Optic 6 Sport, and Spectra Modules

The Hitec Optic 6 transmitter has proven itself to be a great reasonably price transmitter. It's a 6 channel radio boasting an 8 model memory, and programmable functions for sailplanes, acrobatic planes, and helicopters. Last year Hitec released the Optic 6 Sport, which is a more economical choice for fliers who can do without the extras, things like programmable switches and dual elevator mixes. One of the most admirable features of the Optic 6 line, is its ability to use Hitecs Spectra Module. The module allows the pilot to select any one of the 50, 72mhz channels -/+ shift, to match the crystal in the planes receiver. Additionally, Hitec has recently released a Spectra 2.4ghz Module, and 2.4ghz receivers to use with the Optic 6. This brings the Hitec receivers into the 2.4ghz world that their competitors have been dominating. Hitec has a loyal following, and I'm sure they'll take a fair portion of the 2.4ghz market share. Good luck Hitec.

Feb 24, 2009

Phoenix R\C Professional Model Flight Simulator

You don't have to be in the R\C aircraft hobby very long to figure out that if your flying skills are sub-par, you'll need a fat wallet to absorb the impact of your crashes. That is where a R\C flight simulator comes in handy; you can sharpen your skills, and save thousands of dollars in the process.

Several years ago now, I ran across a free R\C flight sim called Flying Model Simulator (FMS). Its a good program that will run on most any hardware setup. However, FMS has questionably unrealistic flight physics. So, with the last of my college funds, I purchased the popular RealFlight simulator version 3.0. I got the free upgrade to version 3.5. Even though my computer is far above the minimum specifications, I had to turn the graphic settings down when flying. Also the ground handling left something to be desired, no bumps on takeoff or landing! G4 was coming out, and I didn't want to spend the money upgrade but I wanted a new sim.

I ran across the Phoenix simulator and I saw a huge lists of pluses. The Phoenix sim offers free down-loadable upgrades between versions, its cheaper than Realflight, and you always use your own transmitter as the controller. My wonderfully supportive wife saw that I had my eye's on a new sim, so she bought it for me for Valentines day. And as far as simulators go, I couldn't be happier with the Phoenix sim. The graphics are superb, and my computer runs this sim without bogging down. Handling on the ground and in the air, seems very realistic. There is a multitude of airplanes and helicopters to fly, with more being continually developed. Since I've owned the sim, multiple updates have been made available, and it just keeps getting better and better. I'd give this sim five stars, I fly with it whenever I can. If your wondering what sim to get, this is the one.

Feb 20, 2009

Multiplex Easy Glider Electric

The first Multiplex airplane I ever encountered, was a heavily dented, glue-yellowed, sad looking little airplane. I'd ran into a fellow R\C enthusiast at the local grocery store, and he was graciously showing me his latest airplane, stuffed in the back of his minivan. He's about the most crash prone pilot I've known, and this plane looked like it'd survived a few of his signature nose dive crashes. He was excitedly waving his arms, exclaiming that it bounced when crashing, and he was able to pick it up and fly again! Balsa wood doesn't bounce, and typically styrofoam cracks, so what was it constructed from? Elapor? Yes, a wonderful foam based material resilient material that accepts typical CA's, no need for foam safe glues with this stuff. And so, I had to have one.

A month later, I purchased the Easy Glider Electric by Multiplex, and I have to say it has become a favorite plane. It is a medium sized plane with a 71 inch wingspan, four channel control, and an all up weight of 35 oz. The Easy Glider Electric kit comes in a box with just a few pieces to assemble. There are two fuselage halves, two wing halves, the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, canopy and the various hardware needed to complete the plane. All the parts are keyed, and fit together perfectly. The control surfaces and hinges are molded in as part of the plane; they simply need cut to the hinge line and bent a few times to loosen them up. Aileron servos are glued into the wing, and rudder and elevator servos are glued into the body. Install the motor, mate the two halves of the fuselage together and then install the radio gear. The wings slide into the fuselage joined by a carbon fiber rod, allowing them to be taken off for transport. I worked on this project over a couple of weekends, and I took my time. Total build time was approximately 4 hours.

This airplane is aimed at beginner to intermediate fliers. While it is easy enough for a beginner to fly, I would recommend beginners seek help from an experienced pilot when flying this bird. Flights are very relaxing, the speed 400 motor has enough power to provide plenty of altitude to hunt for thermals. Even if you don't find a thermal, with the throttle chopped the Easy Glider will surprise you with its glide. I fly it with a 7 cell, 1400mah Nimh. battery and flight times range from 15 minutes in dead air to over 45 minutes with good lift. As with any other plane, take care in your landing approach, if you stall to close to the ground, you'll witness the flying brick effect. A landing like that will definitely test the durability of the Elapor, but it will do little to impress bystanders. Landing this bird is a delicate balance of keeping the nose down, the speed down, and the retrieve walking distance down.

The Easy Glider Electric has convinced me that Elapor foam is great, and that Multiplex can deliver great products for a reasonable price. I am anxiously looking forward to purchasing another Multiplex model.

Feb 18, 2009

Futaba 4EXA

The first radio I ever owned was a 4-channel Airtronics Radio with a single advanced feature, servo reversing. Servo reversing was critical as it allowed servos to be installed in any orientation that worked in the airplane. If control surfaces weren't moving in the right direction after installation, you just flipped the reversing switch. What a modern miracle! Nowadays, we have options I could not even imagine back when I got into this hobby.

In the last two years, I've gone through three radio systems.  When I purchased the Mini-Ventura, I needed a radio system as well, so I started looking for the best radio for the best price.  After much reading, I arrived at a conclusion the Futaba 4EXA with the micro flight pack would suite my needs.

The transmitter features 4 model memory, trim memory, end point adjustments, servo reversing, exponential, and a host of other nifty functions.  Eight AA batteries, in the form of a rechargeable pack, power the transmitter and give it a hefty feel. Programing the transmitters functions is fairly straight forward, and there are only three buttons to deal with. A rocker switch for +/- functionality is located on the right of the digital display, and the left side has a mode and a select button.  The transmitter lacks pizazz, its no frills.  But, in the year I used it, I never had any real technical issues with the transmitter.

As time wore on, I began to find that while this was a good entry level transmitter, it had a few drawbacks. First of I was realizing that 4-channels just isn't what it once was, I was going to need 6. And, the 4EXA only has 4 memory slots which was just not going to be enough. In the end I realized the real problem was that I was outgrowing the transmitter! I posted it on the R\C Universe classifieds and someone quickly snatched up a lightly used great little radio.
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Feb 16, 2009

Air Hogs R\C Airplanes

The poor mans R\C airplane is realized in Air Hogs. I've owned several of these reasonably priced little fliers, and they are nothing but fun. Air Hogs has released several different types of these little planes, but most use two pager motors, one on each wing for control. Other configuration consists of 1 or 2 motor propulsion, and a magnetic actuator for the rudder or elevator. For just $30, they are hard to pass up. I was a little skeptical as to how they'd fly, but a few flights put my skepticism to rest. Granted they do have their faults. The 27mhz band is a little sluggish for response time, which can leave you wondering if it's radio control or remote suggestion guiding the plane. Wind is another issue; these planes are not meant to fly in the wind, and if you try you'll probably have your plane blown far away. After all, they weigh next to nothing.

The planes are almost impossible to destroy. They are constructed of durable EPP foam which would bounce back from all but an encounter with a teething puppy. Also, you can find many modifications for these little birds if you do a quick Google search. The stock controller configuration requires that the throttle be on to steer the plane. I performed a simple modification I found on a forum to allow rudder control with the throttle in the neutral position. It consisted of soldiering a few diodes between components on the controller. This one quick modification will make the planes much more enjoyable to fly. If you do search for this modification, make sure you get the correct schematic for the revision of the transmitter that came with your plane.

Ultimately, Air Hogs R\C airplanes provide a great way for the masses to join into the excitement of R\C flight. For the serious hobbyist, they offer a quick, cheap, travel ready airplane. These are fun, must have little airplanes, well worth the money.
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Feb 15, 2009

Great Planes Fling ARF

Shortly after getting married, I realized I'd have to try and buy planes that fit within our meager budget. In the name of saving money, I started to look for an easy to fly, durable cheap airplane.

I've made a decision to focus on electric planes, mainly because they are cleaner, quieter, and in general less headache. The plane had to be electric, but I could not afford a motor, speed controller, and lipo battery. I started to look at every powerless glider made. Finally I arrived at a verdict. The Fling ARF from Great Planes.

Assembly consists of gluing the pre-covered balsa main wing together with epoxy, and super-gluing the tail together, then super-gluing it to the tail boom. Fuselage construction is of fiberglass, and the tail boom is carbon fiber. The flight pack consisted of 2 micro servos, 1-rudder and 1-elevator, 1-300mah battery pack, and a micro 72mhz Futaba receiver. The only annoying part of assembly was the pull-pull configuration of the servos. A fishing-line size thread is attached to both sides of the rudder and elevator, and to both sides of the control horn on the servo. It works very well, but the fuselage is small and if you didn't earn a knot tying badge in Boy Scouts, it can be quite a pain to get the strings taunt, and still have your control surfaces in a neutral position when your done.

The plane can be hand launched, or it can be launched using the high-start that comes in the box. Launching with the high-start is quite a thrill, akin to a rocket launch. The high start consists of 30 feet of surgical tubing connected to a very long thin line. You peg the end with the surgical tubing into the ground and you connect the plane to the string. You walk away from peg, putting tension on the surgical tubing, and when you release the plane it really soars. Usual launches result in about 300 feet of altitude in a couple seconds time. Technique is key! If you don't have enough room to use the high-start, no worries, a good hard throw can get you 60-80 feet of altitude, which is enough for a lazy lap around the park before landing in your hand.

I tested the planes durability by forgetting to turn on my radio before launching with the high start. The elevator was in the full down position when I released the plane. The nose was instantly buried 2 inches in dirt. It looked like an expensive lawn dart sticking out of the cow pasture. Thankfully there was no damage, all I had to do was clean the fiberglass nose, turn my radio on, and re-launch!

I've flown this plane over a year, on hundreds of flights, and it has been a blast to fly. Part of its thrill is in the fact that its small, easily transported, and can be flown with minimal space. The Fling has gentle flying characteristics, very decent flight times even with out thermals, and its a very affordable model. Great Planes has a great airplane in the Fling, it's a model I'd recommend for a beginning plane, or for a fun everyday flier.

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Feb 13, 2009

Blade CX Helicopter

The Blade CX series of helicopters from E-flite have been a big hit amongst the R\C flight community the last few years. Helicopters are notorious for being difficult to fly, but the CX has changed that. The simple fixed pitch contra rotating blades make the helicopter amazingly stable in a hover. Four channel control provides amazing maneuverability, allowing the CX to be flown in small spaces, even in your house.

I first spotted the CX on the shelf of a hobby shop, and it had immediate appeal. College classes where cramping my style, and I wasn't able to get out and fly the Mini-Ventura as much as I wanted. The CX was the obvious answer to my woes. I purchased the CX with a set of training skids and started practicing hovers. After running a few battery packs through it, I was very comfortable maintaining a hover. The fun continued from there fairly rapidly. Within a week I had removed the training skids and was flying figure eights and doing pirouettes in the back yard.

E-flite has made significant improvements since the first version of the Blade CX. The CX2 version came with a 2.4ghz transmitter which eliminates interference problems that are common on the 72mhz band. Now the Blade CX3 has been released, and can be purchased with a 2.4ghz transmitter, or as a BNF (Bind and Fly Model). Additionally, owners of the CX3 can purchase a nifty easy to install light kit. The neatest CX of them all in my opinion is the new mCX Micro CX. It is truly an indoor helicopter! It's total weight with the battery is 1 oz, and it to is offered as a BNF model.

The CX line of helicopters seems to just keep getting better and better. I would recommend these helicopters as a reasonable, fun way to get into the hobby.
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Feb 11, 2009

Fly-Zone Mini-Ventura

When I was 16 I decided to sell my Gentle Lady, and I took a short sabbatical from flying, while I concentrated on high school and an after school job. I missed the joys of R\C flight and I was really looking forward to the time when I'd have enough money to support my hobby.

College provided me with a steady supply of income, in the form of a student loan. Thankfully, I've always found flight to be a very educational subject matter. My college funds yielded a few very fun little fliers. The one I'd like to tell about now was the Fly-Zone Mini-Ventura.

I was living in the high desert of Oregon, in the middle of winter when I bought the Mini-Ventura. The initial test flight took place in the snow in the yard of the apartment complex I was living at. Being that the M-V is an ARF, I hastily bolted the tail together, rubber-banded the wings to the fuselage and tossed it into the snow covered lawn. With no radio gear installed, the M-V was light, and I remember being extremely well surprised with how well it flew with no radio gear.

Once I had the planes radio installed, I took my first opportunity to give the plane a maiden flight. The day was cold and gray, and there was a gentle breeze. After doing a quick radio check I gave the plane a hard toss with the prop churning at the air. The prop flew off and the plane did a nose dive straight into the ground. Needless to say this was not very inspiring. Post crash analysis revealed a cracked prop, at the point which it connected to the electric motor shaft. I had a spare in my field bag, so I put it on carefully, and in the process I managed to crack it as well. They are very delicate props, made from a brittle plastic. With a determination to have a successful flight, I resorted to super glue to hold the prop in place. Luckily that did the trick. I managed to have a fairly decent first flight avoiding all the rough edges of the air, you know, things like trees, people, and houses.

Sadly this little flier only lasted a few months. Dad came to the flying field with me, and decided he'd show me how to fly the plane. I reminded him that it had been a while since he'd flown, but he stated it was much like riding a bike, one never forgets. Dad had a few mishaps in his days flying, and Mom had been known to say things like "don't let him fly your plane, he'll get it stuck in a tree." The wind was blowing pretty stiffly as I handed the controls over to Dad, I was coaching him along, and noticed that he was letting the wind take him a little to far back toward a line of trees. He was also getting a little low, and I was starting to get worried. I didn't have to worry long, because he managed to stick the plane right into a tree, about 30 feet off the ground. We threw sticks at the plane till it fell lower, then shook the branches with a pole, and during the process the thin foam wings got compromised.

I flew the M-V a few times after its fateful landing in the tree, but it never really flew right. It would get going a little to fast and the wings would flex sending it into a death spiral. Eventually, I recovered the radio equipment and threw the plane away. Looking back I feel as though Dad putting the plane into a tree was a wonderful awakening, because in all reality it was a hard plane to learn on. It flies to fast for a beginner, and although the fuselage is fairly durable hard plastic, the wings are pretty wimpy. They are thin foam reinforced with tape in places. And every prop I bought for the plane seemed to crack when attached to the electric motor, no matter how careful I was. For the price its not a bad little plane, but I can't say I'd recommend it to a friend.
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Feb 10, 2009

The Gentle Lady

As a young child I remember Dad selling his model airplanes so that my sisters could have orthodontic headgear so their teeth would be straight. It was upsetting to me that a he would get rid of such beautiful things as airplanes, in exchange for alien headgear for his children. Honestly, I'm still not sure I understand, I'd rather see crooked teeth than part with an airplane for the sake of vanity.

Growing older, I decided that Dad could help me get started in the model airplane hobby. He generously purchased and built a Gentle Lady glider, which would be the first airplane I would refer to as mine! The entire project, including the radio, cost a little over $400, back in the early 90's. Now you can get twice the plane for half the cost.

The glider was built over the period of a year. With the fuselage finished in red, and the wings in transparent blue, the glider was a thing of beauty to behold. Dad opted to make the Gentle Lady a powered glider by placing a Cox .049 Black Widow engine in place of the balsa nose cone. The little engine would drag the plane to what was hoped to be thermal altitude in its limited 3 minute run time.

In flight the Gentle Lady definitely lived up to her name. Gracefully floating through the air like an eagle on outspread wings, the Gentle Lady was and still is a perfect beginners airplane. Carl Goldberg Products Ltd. still manufactures the Gentle Lady in kit form, and more recently they have made it available as an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) model.