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Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Old 05-14-2006, 09:58 AM
  #1  
agshane
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Default Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Here's a few pictures of an Alpha Trainer 40 ARF that experienced a wing failure. This is the fourth Alpha that has crashed because of this flaw. This particular wing had failed a few months earlier, however it was repaired by fiberglassing the center section of the wing. This failure occured outside the fiberglass section, when a student gave an abrupt "pull" on the elevator. But ya know, a trainer should be built to handle that kind of abuse.

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Old 05-14-2006, 11:25 AM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Maybe throws should be decreased?
Trainer models are not designed to pull high Gs. Sorry for the plane!!!!
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Old 05-14-2006, 04:21 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

A bunch of guys at our club have learned to fly with the alpha's. Haven't seen a wing fail yet. Trainers aren't 3d planes
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Old 05-14-2006, 07:44 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

In the past three years I have assisted 16 people, who had purchased the Alpha Trainer, to solo. All have continued advancing their skills with those same aircraft. None of these Alphas had any problems with the wings.

In addition, two of them and two other Alphas have been "put through the wringer" by two members of our club, mostly flying them at near full throttle and pulling them through tight, 90-degree bank turns. Although the first two models were "retired" due to damage from other reasons, the wings were moved to scratch built fuselages and continue to fly.

The one Alpha I saw lose a wing, had been purchased 'used' and the wings were neither taped nor glued together. It was interesting watching the left half ornithopitor down while the rest of the plane performed the infamous death spiral.

Perhaps, in the case you mention, the previous crash caused damage that was not identified during the repair process? I have had that happen on other models.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:25 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

I killed my alpha like that .I was getting cocky after flying for a few weeks and I found out they dont like high g moves. Oh well live and learn.
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Old 05-15-2006, 02:07 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

I had no problems with my Aplha trainer. From about 150 feet up I'd head straight for the ground full throttle and then pull up hard. It took it over and over again. I had packing tape (2 layers) holding the wing together instead of that cheap stuff they say to use.

What killed mine was trying to knife edge it 2 foot off the ground. It was doing it just fine until it touched the ground.
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Old 05-22-2006, 05:17 AM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

sorry, but i am definately going to have to disagree with your opinons on, trainers are not 3d planes, i have a member down at my club, with a pheonix classic high-wing trainer, whom can hover, harrier, flat spin, full runway length knife edge's, this plane also has a os 46 ax on it which is plenty of power and i have to admit, i was a sucker after seeings this and went out and bought 1 to muck around with, pity im no where near as good of a flyer as he is but dont ever say a trainer cant do 3d :P

Another specialty is when he stands it its tail, (balancing it vertically on its rudder and elevator control surfaces, and takes off directly vertical into a hover, thats always fun to watch
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Old 05-24-2006, 09:41 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

something sounds fishy I have seen alpha's pancake in so hard they rip the gear and tail off but the wing was fine
wonder if an aileron rod came off and flutter killed it
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:40 AM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

The fact the Alpha has been around this long and this is first mention leads me to believe it is something other than a quality problem.
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Old 05-25-2006, 07:38 AM
  #10  
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Now does the arf use the long metal wing spar tube or the shorter plywood joiner that might be the differancw in strengh
the metal tube goes out into the wing quite a ways
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Old 05-25-2006, 10:47 AM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Mine had the aluminum wing joiner and the wings were epoxied together.I managed to bend it in flight and the front of the fuse were the covering looks like the front windshield came off the model and fluttered down like a feather.This let the wing almost separate as one wing bolt broke but the other stayed intact causeing a rather impressive death spiral to the ground.I'm absolutely sure it was from doing crank and bank turns at full throttle in some pretty high winds because you could see the wings physically flexing upwards each turn quite a bit.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:06 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

I'm joining the chorus, never seen an Alpha wing fail, and I trained student on a bunch of them, ARFs and RTFs. I've seen one fly with an MDS 58. The pilot was doing walls and other things. He knew what he was doing, but still I expected the wings to fold at some point - never did.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:51 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

For what its worth ,I have helped students with several of the alpha trainers and have seen them go thru quite a bit of abuse without any wing breakage.
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:27 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

I have an alpha as well and never once did it have a problem, I still have it and intend on training my wife and son to fly using it.
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:53 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

When training, I've noticed many times where the instructor doesn't slow the airplane down and then retrim. They usually let the student take over at a very high power setting. The first time the plane starts to dive the student yanks on the elevator in a panic and stresses the wing.

Guys, slow down a little. Learn throttle management too. Its not just elevator and ailerons.

I learned on a Styrofoam Cardinal. (1980s) It called for a 20 size motor, but we put in a 40. Dad just pulled the power way back and I could fly for nearly 30 minutes at a time. Practice, Practice, Practice. (by the way, Dad killed that plane by flying the wings off in a high G maneuver.... Boy was I pissed, but he bought it.)
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:03 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Hey Guys, I have an Alpha 40 and have had no problems with them at all.....even if I'm on my third one. The first two got eaten by trees since I lost orientation both times....we all know trees love RC planes too! I'm still learning so I don't do any drastic moves except when I'm getting close to something but then I'm at half throttle anyway. I seem to relax more then, one thing I did do was get rid of that two stroke engine and stuck a 4 stroke .61 on her and I like it so much better. I'm still landing in fields since I have trouble lining up on the runway but I have no trouble landing that way. Right now just doing oval patterns and getting the plane home safely is my biggest concern. A friend of mine told me to get a Big Stick 40 next since he said it's a lot easier to fly and learn on then the Alpha 40 is. He had an Alpha 40 but gave it to me to learn on but that was the first RC plane I got and we know what happen to that...I'd get another Alpha 40 anyday! My biggest problem today is learning how to watch the plane and judge the distance since I'm blind in one eye. Having no depth perseption does make it interesting at times but I hope to manage that....I just need to learn to fly close by and relax.
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:11 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

I took a thunder tiger 40 sized trainer up as high as I could while somewhat still learning to fly. I thought that it would be a kick in the pants to fly it as high as I could see it (I was next to an airport, so this is a big no no), make it dive as fast as it would go, and pull up abruptly. No damage and the bird is still flying today after my dad had a servo completely fail.
I think it all depends on how you glue the wing halves together. I always make sure to over kill the gluing of the wing halves.
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:05 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

ORIGINAL: agshane

Here's a few pictures of an Alpha Trainer 40 ARF that experienced a wing failure. This is the fourth Alpha that has crashed because of this flaw. This particular wing had failed a few months earlier, however it was repaired by fiberglassing the center section of the wing. This failure occured outside the fiberglass section, when a student gave an abrupt ''pull'' on the elevator. But ya know, a trainer should be built to handle that kind of abuse.

My wife was practicing split S's with her new Alpha 40 and the wing folded. It failed on the 4th split S. She was at 3/4 throttle when it happened. The elevator travel was slightly higher then the recommended low rate in the manual, but significantly lower then the high rate amount specified. The engine used was the EVO PTS motor with a 10x6 prop. When I assembled the wing she and I noted the thinness of the wing tube, but I figured epoxying the wing together along with the tape they provide should have been sufficient for any training type maneuver she might do.

I would classify a split S as a necessary basic maneuver for a student that is nearly ready to solo. A trainer SHOULD be able to take full elevator from a loop without wing damage. I counseled her after the first one, because she pulled too hard on the elevator for the throttle position she was at. Her next one was the opposite, too little elevator resulting in a lot of altitude loss. The next one was pretty good. The last one was about like the third, but the wing snapped at the bottom of the pullout.

The plane was never recovered because it went down in deep woods. In hind site I should have increased her aileron throws which would have made the plane roll well enough at lower throttle settings to perform the maneuver without over stressing the wings. At least this would have kept the plane intact to fly another day.

Anyway I took her to HobbyTown and I bought her a new Alpha 40, this one being the RTF model, since we lost her entire flight pack and engine. Before we left the store I opened and inspected the kit. The first thing we both noticed was that the wall thickness of the wing tube in the RTF kit was 2 to 3 times as thick as the ARF kit we had purchased just 3 weeks prior. I'm leaning toward 3x the originals thickness, it was s BIG difference.

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Old 11-12-2010, 04:32 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Got to ask, why does this wing look more like it was cut in half than broken. was there a seam in the sheeting top and bottom that let go?
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Old 11-12-2010, 05:50 PM
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Default RE: Heads Up! Alpha 40 ARF Wing Flaw

Finally found part of my wife's plane. The left wing was the only thing that made it through the trees to the ground. Could not see any trace of the rest of the plane. Either hunters found it or the trees ate it.

Her wing split right at the center joint and the aluminum tube bent and snapped. Anyone flying this plane should consider it non-aerobatic at anything over half throttle. Even then, don't do any hard pulls on the elevator. I discovered that I was wrong about the wing tube diameter being less then her current plane. They were both 2mm wall thickness.

Her replacement plane has had 4 flights and 3 bouncy landings. Nothing severe, just the usual low speed/low altitude porpoising you see student pilots encounter all the time when they are learning to get the flare at landing timed right. Pre-flight inspection in preparation for the next weeks flying revealed that the firewall had broken loose. Took it apart and glassed it back in place. I would normally have poured some epoxy onto the firewall joints of any ARF before installing the tank, but since this was a RTF, I skipped the step.

I cannot recommend this plane for training. Weak wing design and poor quality construction. I have flown many trainers over the years and never encountered one that has such little tolerance for stress. This is especially bad when you consider trainers can be expected to encounter rough landings and hard pulls during recovery from unexpected maneuvers. I usually recommend Hangar 9 planes, but not this one.
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