My Trip to Vietnam Day 6 – Flying Seagull Models in Vietnam

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Day Six – Seagull Models Airplanes

Duyen had planned to have some of her employees bring out several of the Seagull airplanes to fly – Mike and I were the special guests and were invited to fly a few of the airplanes as well. For me, it’s a little nerve-wracking to fly airplanes that aren’t mine, but Duyen insisted that we have a good time flying.

After the Seagull team had finished assembling the airplanes, we were ready to fly! The first plane into the air was the new F-8F Bearcat. The Seagull test pilot handled the plane well, and made it look look nice on low, fast strafing runs! This plane really looks great in the air!

Mike was up first, flying the new Nieuport 28. Being from Australia, he was flying Mode 1. He had brought his own transmitter along, so the Nieuport was bound to his transmitter and set up accordingly. After getting comfortable with the plane, Mike was having a good time flying! Though he and I thought the plane was slightly tail heavy, he was able to make it perform well – minus a small encounter with a bush that jumped in his way when landing…

Next up was me and the 50cc Decathlon. I’ve been a fan of the Decathlon since I first laid eyes on one about 25 years ago, so to get to fly a large one was going to be a real treat! With the engine running reliably, I taxied the Decathlon out to the street from which we were flying – at that very moment, it really dawned on me how narrow the street was, and how many hazards there were to hit… So, as I’m advancing the throttle and trying to keep an eye on the sides of the street, the Decathlon jumped off much sooner than I anticipated, and at a much slower speed than I would have liked. Now, I can give you all kinds of excuses about what happened – the plane wasn’t set up the way I like it, there was too much throw on high rates and not enough on low, etc, etc. I could go on, but the real truth is that I just wasn’t ready for the plane to become airborne. I fought to try to level the wings, but ended up putting the plane down hard. Unfortunately, I broke the prop and the left side fiberglass wingtip came off. The Seagull crew worked frantically to get the plane ready once again! I talked with the test pilot and expressed my concerns, to which he replied he would get the plane in the air and hand the transmitter to me. Now, I was already feeling a little heartbroken and stupid for breaking the plane to begin with, but they all really wanted to see me enjoy a flight. So, when the Decathlon had been repaired, it went back up! This time, after the trims had been set, I got a hold of the transmitter. I flew the giant scale Decathlon around for several minutes, feeling anxious about it the whole time. eventually, I settled into a bit of a groove, and the nerves subsided. I was actually having some fun at this point! Just before the transmitter’s timer went off, I handed it back to the main pilot for landing. Sure, I felt a little foolish, but that street really had me flustered! He brought the Decathlon in for a nice landing, and rolled it out well!

One of the other Seagull pilots took the Decathlon back up after a fuel refill, and did some basic 3D maneuvers. He did really well, right up to the landing. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

Whoops! Well, it’s bound to happen to us all at some point…

Up next was the new Yak 11 racer. After a brutal fight to get the engine to run properly, the Yak 11 was finally ready to fly. With our trusty test pilot at the sticks, the Yak took off easily, but appeared to be a little tail heavy at first – as it turned out, the Yak really likes speed, and gets sluggish at lower speeds. He got the plane trimmed to fly well, and the engine started bogging down, so he brought it around for a landing. Back on the ground, more engine tuning took place until they were satisfied with the engine. Back up in the air the Yak 11 went, and the transmitter was handed to me – we left the gear down, just in case of a flame out. I flew the plane around at full throttle for about 4 minutes when the engine abruptly quit. I yelled out ‘dead stick’, and he grabbed the transmitter from me. It took everything he had to get that plane back on the ground on the runway, but he did a really nice job doing so!

The last of the Seagull aircraft to take flight was the new 50cc P-47 Razorback. Its engine seemed to be running strong right away, so it was started and flown – Unfortunately, a few minutes into the flight, the engine quit – with the gear retracted! The pilot did his best to keep the airspeed up as he attempted to drop the gear, but it was of no use. The P-47 was too low and slow to make a recovery glide to the runway. She disappeared out of sight into the tall thick grass off the runway, but not before I got some really good photos of the  Thunderbolt!

Thankfully the P-47 survived with only minor damage, and it will fly again!

That wrapped up our day of flying, and we left the club members to finish up their own flying. A group of us went to a small restaurant called Pho Hung – Pho is a type of noodle that is usually served in a bowl with meat, vegetables and broth. It’s very similar to a noodle soup, but we ate it with chopsticks! When lunch had been finished, we drove back to Duyen’s residence. Catrina and I stayed at Duyen’s house because we had to catch a very early flight out of Saigon airport Monday morning. For most of the afternoon, I just laid low, and took a shower an nap. I was nearly soaked through my clothes from sweating in the high temps and hot sun. Laying down in an air conditioned room sure felt nice.

Dinner was served for the last time during my journey, and consisted of an ‘American meal’ of Steak, mashed potatoes, French Fries, and a drink. It was very tasty! Around 20:00 (8 PM) I retired to my room for the night to get some sleep before flying out on Monday.

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