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First flight with Aerobird Challenger

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Old 11-17-2003, 03:16 PM
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shams42
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Default First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Hey all,

I've been lurking here for a while now as I've considered getting started in the hobby. Based on what I learned from this site and at the LHS, I decided to order an Aerobird. RCBoyz.com has them for $115! Anyway, I've been practicing a little with the pre-flight simulator before I flew for the first time and it helped a lot I think. I went driving around until I found a big field that is an industrial site for sale. The ground is covered with low scrub to about 1 to 1.5 feet. This is actually kind of nice because it catches the plane when it lands and is softer than grass.

I gave my plane a few unpowered test throws which resulted in my plane immediately banking to the left and slamming into the ground. After fiddling with the trim on the control, I got it to glide straight and level. I powered it up to full throttle and gave it a toss. I was flying! I was really fun. The day was overcast and almost windless. Because of the extreme trim adjustment required, I couldn't really get the plane to turn right. After a couple of short flights, I decided to unlock "pro-mode" for more roll and yaw control. This worked very well though it was a little nerve-wracking -- I had a lot more control of the plane and could now turn in either direction easily. All in all I probably had about 6 short flights on one charge. 2 of my landings were very gentle and about where I wanted them... the others were more like controlled crashes from a low altitude. I am happy to say that I never had anything like what I would consider a real crash, just a few close calls like a vertical stall 20 feet above the ground. From my simulator experience, I knew to kill the throttle until the plane did a tail slide, pointed at the ground and started picking up airspeed. I gave it full throttle and full up elevator and pulled up about 2-3 feet above the scrub.

I can't wait to fly again. I've already ordered two of the 8.4v battery packs so that I can get more flying time per visit to the field. I'm hooked! I also adjusted the control surfaces so that I should be able to center the horizontal trim control and still get level flight, which I'm hoping will allow me to turn easily in either direction in sport mode.

Thanks to everyone on here that described their flying experiences with the Aerobird. Because of you guys, I knew to find a BIG field and to respect the wind! I wouldn't have tried to fly today at all if the wind had been blowing.

I guess now I need to make the suggested modifications to reinforce the plane against any possible future crashes. This is really fun! With a little simulator time, it's not too hard to teach yourself to fly!

Matt
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:41 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I know that it is bad form to reply to your own posts, but oh well...

The 2nd flight went very, very well. I recharged my battery and headed back to the same field. Still no wind! I did realize that you can't really test trim settings with the "toss" method. Once powered flight was underway, I had to trim the horizontal control oppositely, probably to counteract the control line adjustment that I made earlier. I think the plane was actually trimmed almost perfectly out of the box.

Pro mode is a lot more fun. I actually did a couple of loops today and several tail slides. I did get the plane out of control a couple of times -- including once when the plane was completely sideways relative to the ground -- but I was able to recover before crashing. Landings are become more gentle and I am slowly learning how to put the plane down where I want it.

I guess the biggest challenge for me at this point is to learn how to be gentle on the control inputs and to correct for what the plane is GOING to do, not what it is doing. For instance, it's very easy to give the plane a little down elevator to start a dive at medium throttle, and then pull up a bit, expecting a return to level flight. Of course what happens is that the extra airspeed makes the plane pitch up, stall, drop the nose, and then resume flight with a little dip. Learning to correct for airspeed changes with elevator control is something that I'm slowly grasping.

It's just general smoothness -- it's not that hard to keep the plane in the air, but making it go where and how you want it is a little bit harder. The proper technique for smoothness seems to be to move the controls slowly until the plane responds, and then back to center, rather than holding constant input. The latter tends to cause erratic flight that is difficult to predict.

Also learning how to turn at various degrees of sharpness and various airspeeds while maintaining constant altitude is kind of hard at this stage. I'm happy to say that I'm learning.

Matt
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Old 11-17-2003, 07:28 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

We have a Firebird Commander here and it's a blast to fly (if no wind!). I'm glad that you enjoyed your first couple flights as well!
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Old 11-20-2003, 01:09 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Flight report: first crash!

Today as I was flying my bird, I got the idea of putting the plane into a stall to see how it would behave. So from level flight at about 40% throttle, I slowly killed the throttle while giving the plane up elevator to keep the nose up. The plane stalled beautifully and then fell from the sky like a rock! I was only about 20 - 25 feet off the ground at the time. In hindsight I can say that I should have had a lot more altitude under me before trying this maneuver. Duh! Anyway, the bird wasn't damaged in any visible way. Full throttle and a strong toss and she was flying again.

A few more of my "landings" were pretty rough today. So much so that I decided to learn how to land this darn thing where I want it to land. It was fun because sometimes the wind was very mild but occasionally there would be gusts. And just to make it more interesting, it was blowing across my chosen landing strip. I'd take off, come around in a circle, and land. I probably did this a dozen times before the battery gave out. Lather, rinse, repeat. I had some pretty nice ones in there, and some pretty ugly ones. I am really proud of one landing that took place in a fairly strong crosswind/headwind. It was so cool to see my plane coming in almost sideways so slowly it was almost just hanging in the air, yet moving directly toward the place I wanted it to land. Awesome!

I can't wait until my extra batteries arrive. I'll probably need a new wing by then, as this one is starting to get a little chewed by the rubber bands.

Matt
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Old 11-20-2003, 07:21 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Put a long strip of reinforced packing tape (the one with the stripes in it) on both side edges of the wing, where the rubberbands are. This will not only prevent it from being cut by the rubberbands, but also helps when the wing hits the propeller on a rough landing. Usually the wing splits apart when this happens. However, with packing tape around the edges, the wing won't be cut... Make sure you don't use too much tape since it adds weight, but one long strip on each side will be fine and you won't notice the added weight!

Dennis
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Old 11-20-2003, 08:09 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

After charging up my battery and returning to the field where I've been flying, I got a few more good flights in today. As I was leaving, the property owner pulled up. At first I thought I was in trouble, but he quickly assured me that he didn't mind me using the field. In fact, he was really interested in my plane. I gave him all the details. He seemed really interested -- so much so that I told him not to get a plane on channel one. It would be really cool to get sonic combat modules and do some dogfighting!

Matt
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Old 12-31-2003, 05:33 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I just bought my challanger and got it stuck in a tree twice in one day. But it is a hell of a lot of fun. Does the flight simulator really help, I can't keep my plane in the air for too long cause it is too nerve racking. Any advice would be great.
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Old 12-31-2003, 06:18 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I got my chalanger 3 weeks ago and have had no trouble.............(first plane) and im only 13 years old. as far as throwing without power I dont... the torch is way different when the motor is running.............. BTW warlock you can download a free RC flight sim called FMS
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Old 01-02-2004, 06:26 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Thanks DFalpha,

How big is the field you are flying in. I can't controll my plane for nothing. This thing is fast as hell. I am so nervous of getting our of controll I only bring it about 50 feet in the air. I am gonna download that FMS flight simulator thanks.


Paul
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Old 01-04-2004, 04:02 PM
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cato47
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

DFalpha,
30 flights? Wow how do you do it? In your earlier flights did you keep the power up? I have been using full throttle to launch and climb out. Then I throttle back for fear of running out of space (someone mentioned nerve-racking). Then the plane seems to handle turns badly. The first time I flew it I did some laps and it didn't seem to bad. I've been terrible since.
Also, do you have a link to the FMS simulator?
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Old 01-04-2004, 06:45 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I love the plane at half thorttle handles fine...........I use full to climb out in wind..............I can do loops chandelles tail slides no problem... but maybe im natrural (log hundreds of hours on lfight sims... Aces HIgh) I gave the sticks to my dad and he crashed within 45 seconds snapping my wing............. I fly in a field that about the size of 2 football fields
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Old 01-29-2004, 09:24 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I got my Challenger about 5 days ago. What a learning curve!

First day I went out to a field in a big park behind my house. There was a bit of a breeze. I was doing fine for a few minutes, then got low and flew head-on into one of the boulders that rings this field. Ouch! Busted wing, so I headed to LHS for a few spares. The gentleman suggested I try the Commander wing as well. I picked one up and tried it in the afternoon. Again, I was doing fine until I got flustered and lost control at about 30 feet and augered in.

Two wings killed on my fIrst day! I was wondering if I can afford this!

In the evening I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started messing with one of them. Clean break almost directly front to back about two inches starboard of the wing center. I thought it would be hard to get it so that it wouldn't fail in bending. I used four 1 inch long pieces of round toothpicks and set them into the joint to serve as alignment pins, then epoxied the pieces together. Lots of lengths of transparent packing tape, covering at least 12 inches from either side of the break along top and bottom of the wing. I was soon surprised at how the wing was as rigid as the new ones in the bag!

I got to work on he other one which also had a piece about four inches long and a half inch or so wide gouged out from the leading edge a few inches in from the starboard wingtip. The break was diagonal on this one, starboard wing starting about four inches outboard of the root and a good six or seven inches long. It was held together by the cover. The fellow at the LHS said there would be no way to patch the leading edge without the missing chunk in hand. I repaired the break same as on the other wing and then simply took an index card creased across its width and taped it over to the leading edge covering the gouge, half of the card over the top of the wing, half of if over the lower side. The tape caused it to conform to the curve of the wing and it looked OK. I flew it today and no problem with the equipment! So, both busted wings are flyable again!

I also read about the engine mount reinforcement in a post by aeajr and have done it. I don't understand how the tail boom beef-up is done. How is it done without cutting the control lines inside the boom?

As for flight, so far I've hit that boulder head-on at full throttle, I've nosed in, I've flown into three trees - only damage was shredded tail feathers when the bramble that weaves itself around a central Texas cedar got hold of it as it tried to fall out of the tree. I've tried pro mode and like the quicker and more aggressive response. I'll probably keep that setting from now on.

I've found this plane really noses up when full power is applied. Is that just the way it is? Breeze makes it behave differently. It destabilizes it noticeable. Today it was overcast and misting, but dead calm and what a difference! Easier to hold attitude and control airspeed.

My mistake on day one may have been trying to fly with more breeze than I could handle. It felt very moderate, but I've never kept an eye out for how strong a breeze might be for flying one of these things. Now I can see what a big difference it makes. Until I get more proficient I'm going to stay on the ground whenever the antenna streamer approaches a 45 degree angle.

I felt a lot better after this afternoon's flights. I had about six or seven hand launches. I had one "emergency landing" where I felt it getting away from me at about 15' of altitude and decided to cut throttle and set down some 150 yards away. I had one "drop in" that knocked the wing off center, but for the first time I came back to the car with no broken pieces!

All told I flew for about 10-12 minutes total over about 45 n=minutes at the field. I was just looking to get the hang of altitude and attitude control, as well as steering clear of trees. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more!

I'd like to find a much more open field, though. I don't like going above 50' for fear of getting out over a boundary and landing in thick cedar on private land adjoining. I should be able to keeo the plane over about 5 acres, but it's in a hollow and if there's any breeze it catches the plane as soon as it goes any higher. I just don't have the confidence to get above that horizon yet.

I bought a little slow flyer a couple of days ago and should have the electronics in it by the weekend. It's the GWS Cub, fuselage version. It went together easy enough. I decided that until I get a lot better I want to have something slower to take right out back. The field is plenty big, about 100 yards wide on average by a good 500-600 yards long. Houses down one side and a road down the other. I'm not sure I can keep the Challenger inside the width quite yet, so the Cub should give me my fix when I don't want to hop in the car to go fly.

I'm hooked, though! I'm hoping the worst dings are behind me. I'm already looking for what might be a good full 3-axis of control plane, or a flying wing type. The Carbon Falcon looks intriguing. Anybody here have any experience with it?

Thanks to all who contribute here! It has all been very valuable to this newbie .... especially the repairs and preps tips!
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Old 03-14-2004, 04:11 PM
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netitibydow
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

I just got my Challenger the other day. I'm completely new to rc and found it a lot easier than I thought. I went to my schools baseball/soccer field, which has a softball field adjacent to it, so there was lots of space. In hindsight, I should have waited for another day, because the wind, although mostly calm, was a little gusty, probably 10 or 15 mph gusts. I hand launched it into the wind with full power and it climbed out great. Flew straight for probably 100 yds or so to gain altitude then began circling, and just having a good time. Flying it was actually fairly easy, but it did underturn in sport mode, next time I'll probably use pro mode. Anyway, after about five or ten minutes of a great time, I was flying with the wind and a little crossways to it. The Challenger got out over the road and over the power lines about 20' up, and I was a little paranoid about the lines. I tried to gain some altitude to get some breathing room, but just then the wind gusted from behind the plane, so it was basically unresponsive, and ended up into a tree across the road. The wing was only missing a small chunk out of the leading edge, but it was stuck tight about 15' up at the end of a branch. I had to climb up and shake the branches for like 5 min trying to get the thing out, and in the process snapped the weakened(?) wing in a nasty jagged, diagonal way. I finally got it down, and other than the wing there was no damage, but I hadn't got a spare yet so I was done for the day. In my experiance so far it is wonderfull to fly, although not responsive enough for me in sport mode, but I will definitely be more conciouse of the wind next time, now that I know the handling in a breeze. Oh well, I'm hooked , so I'll have to keep flying!

-Chris
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Old 03-14-2004, 09:09 PM
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BobbyGee
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Congrats, net.

Wind is the biggest problem with the Challenger. It gets to be a handful.

You will find it more responsive in pro mode, and I find it acutally easier to handle because of that.

A big space is definitley a plus! The manual recommends about 600 ft. to each side - which is a very hard kind of open space to find, but a couple of soccer fields plus a softball field sounds like plenty. It's a good choice by your description.

Try patching up the wing. Epoxy along the break and then use lengths of packing tape - the transparent stuff used to seal boxes - across the span of the wing along the underside. Start from the trailing edge, overlapping to the upper suirface by about a half inch. Cover the entire undersurface. Then do the same with the upper surface. I had a gouge about three inches by 1/2 inch along the leading edge and I used an index card folded over to repair it. Shape the card to the curve of the airfoil.

Put a bit of tension on the tape without pulling it too tightly. That bit of tension will strengthen the wing. Make sure that the tape is pressed well on to the surface.

A taped wing is very sturdy! I broke two on my first couple of flights, fixed tham both and have yet to use the replacement wings I bought!

Cheers!!!

BobbyG
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Old 03-17-2004, 04:34 PM
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Default RE: First flight with Aerobird Challenger

Newbie here -- my experience:

Day 1 -- Relatively calm, but strong wind gusts. Sunny and clear. I decide I will leave my new Aerobird Challenger in "Sport Mode" (beginner mode), despite the fact that I am confident in my flight simulator abilities. I also decide I will attach my wireless camera, just in case I only get 1 flight out of my $170 investment.

Day 1, Flight 1 -- Full throttle, toss into the wind... Immediate nose dive and crash. No damage. Decide 9-volt battery and camera are too far forward and move them farther aft.

Day 1, Flight 2 -- Full throttle, toss into the wind... I'm flying! The wind is strong enough to force a wing over and potential stall -- somehow I just can't fight the wind and decide to turn left and fly with the wind, which blows me down wind about 30 yards. I decide to fight the wind again. Same thing -- I can't fight it and turn left to go with the wind again -- another 20 yard loss down wind. I decide to turn right into the wind again (big mistake -- I am now over the parking lot and approaching the roof of a 45,000 square foot building) -- the wind catches the bird again and I crash on the roof of the building! Total flight time -- 40 seconds of excellent aerial photography!

Day 1, Flight 3 -- Full throttle, toss into the wind... Again, I fight the wind -- it blows me down wind about 50 yards again, but I vow to head AWAY from the roof of the building. A gust of wind knocks me from the sky and I crash-land on the street (concrete), flip over and strike the curb and sidewalk before coming to a rest. The wireless camera is toast. The 9-volt battery looks like it went through a blender. Broken propeller ends my day of fun, as I do not have a spare and the hobby store closes early on Sunday... Amazingly, the rest of the bird is in excellent condition, and all flight control surfaces still respond!

Day 2 -- I take a day off to reflect on my first day experience. I decide there were four main factors to my first day poor performance: Wind, inexperience, "crippleware" (AKA "Sport Mode" ), and the 9-volt battery and camera weight. I decide the main problem was the wind and the fact that "Sport Mode" does not give the pilot full control to battle that wind. I repair my broken propeller and vow to do better next time.

Day 3 -- Very calm, with some small wind gusts. Sunny and clear. I decide to use "Pro Mode" for full controll over the Aerobird, and leave off the 9-volt battery and wireless camera.

Day 3, Flight 1 -- Full throttle, toss into the wind... I'm flying! What a world of difference "Pro Mode" makes! I can easily fight the wind now, and fly around reasonably effortlessly for 2 or 3 minutes. I try a few loops, but can never quite get over without stalling. The wind blows me down wind about 40 yards (again), and I decide to turn back when the gust of wind hit. I lost control and crashed pretty hard into the grass. Something flew off, which I later realized was the new propeller. The prop damaged the wing in three places (including a missing piece about the size of a nickel), but the prop was fine. A rubber band is broken, which I replaced. I fixed the wing with some packing tape and was unsure if it would fly.

Day 3, Flight 2 -- Full throttle, toss into the wind... I'm flying for about 30 seconds before I realize the taped wing is working beautifully! I fly for several minutes and realize I don't have to fly at full throttle all the time -- 30% throttle is excellent cruising speed. I decide to attempt a landing -- the landing gear catches on some tall grass and I wipe out. No damage.

Day 3, Flight 3 -- Very similar to flight 2.

Day 3, Flight 4 -- Very similar to flight 2, but I am getting really good at lineing up for landings. I can bring the plane within 10 feet of my touchdown point almost every time. The landing gear really is a problem on grass, and falls off on this landing attempt. I elect to put the landing gear in my pocket, based on what I've read on this board.

Day 3, Flight 5 -- When I toss it into the wind, and watch the plane soar away from me, I realize I'm flying with out landing gear for the first time -- I'm going to have to land this sucker sometime soon! I fly around and land it, but still flip over in tall grass (the grass is about 12 to 16 inches high).

Day 3, Flight 6 -- Good flight, attempting my landing in shorter grass... I overshoot my designated runway and attempt a go-around. Something is wrong and I'm not getting power as I turn left -- I level out and make a perfect belly landing in the street (the same street as the fatal crash on Day 1). Wow! I'm getting better at this! Woohoo!

Day 3, Flight 7 -- Full power, toss into the wind... I'm flying, but immediately lose power! I realize the battery is dead, and was most likely my problem on the go-around on the previous flight! Somehow I manage to level out the bird and perform a cartwheeling emergency landing. NO DAMANGE!

I love the Aerobird Challenger -- it is a glutton for punishment, and keeps on flying. I am very happy with this trainer, and can see myself buying more expensive R/C planes in the future!

Freelancer
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