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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