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  1. #1
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Whether you have a coach or you are trying to learn to fly on your own, you
    will need to be mindful of these six areas if you are going to become a
    successful RC pilot. After two years of working with new flyers at our club,
    and coaching flyers on the forums, there are a few things I have seen as the
    key areas to stress for new pilots. Some get it right away and some have to
    work at it. They are in no particular order because they all have to be
    learned to be successful.

    WIND
    Orientation
    Speed
    Altitude
    Over Control
    Preflight Check

    1) Wind - The single biggest cause of crashes that I have observed has been the
    insistence upon flying in too much wind. If you are under an instructor's
    control or on a buddy box, then follow their advice, but if you are starting
    out and tying to learn on your own, regardless of the model, I recommend dead
    calm to 3 MPH for the slow stick and tiger moth type planes. Under 5 MPH for
    all others. That includes gusts. An experienced pilot can handle more. It is the pilot, not hte plane that determines how much wind can be handled.

    The wind was around 8 mph steady with gusts to 12. That was strong enough that some of the experienced pilots flying three and four channel small electric planes chose not to launch their electrics. This new flyer insisted that he wanted to try his two and three channel parkflyers. Crash, Crash, Crash - Three planes in pieces. He just would not listen. Sometimes you just have to let them crash. There is no other way to get them to understand.

    Many parkflyers can be flown in higher winds by AN EXPERIENCED PILOT. I
    have flown my Aerobird in 18 mph wind (clocked speed) but it is quite exciting
    trying to land it.

    Always keep the plane up wind from you. There is no reason for a new flyer to
    have the plane downwind EVER!


    2) Orientation - Knowing the orientation of your plane is a real challenge,
    even for experienced pilots. You just have to work at it and some adults have
    a real problem with left and right regardless of which way the plane is going.
    Licensed pilots have a lot of trouble with this one as they are accustomed to
    being in the plane..

    Here are two suggestions on how to work on orientation when you are not
    flying.

    Use a flight simulator on your PC. Pick a slow flying model and fly it a lot.
    Forget the jets and fast planes. Pick a slow one. Focus on left and right
    coming at you. Keep the plane in front of you. Don't let it fly over your
    head.

    FMS is a free flight simulator. It is not the best flight sim, but the price
    is right and it works. There are also other free and commercial simulators.


    The links below take you to sites that provide cables that work with FMS that
    allow you to use the trainer port on your radio to allow you to fly the
    simulator. This is an excellent training approach.

    http://www.mattclement.freeservers.com/fms/fms.html
    http://www.simblaster.com/
    http://www.customelectronics.co.uk/

    An alternative is to try an RC car that has proportional steering. You don't
    have to worry about lift, stall and wind. Get something with left and right
    steering and speed control. Set up an easy course that goes toward and away
    from you with lots of turns. Do it very slowly at first until you can make
    the turns easily. Then build speed over time. You'll get it! If it has
    sticks rather than a steering wheel even better, but not required. Oh, and
    little cars are fun too.


    3) Too much speed - Speed it the enemy of the new pilot but if you fly too
    slowly the wings can't generate enough lift, so there is a compromise here.
    The key message is that you don't have to fly at full throttle all the time.
    Most small electrics fly very nicely at 2/3 throttle and some do quite well at
    1/2. That is a much better training speed than full power. Launch at full
    power and climb to a good height, say 100 feet as a minimum, so you have time
    to recover from a mistake. At 100 feet, about double the height of the trees
    where I live, go to half throttle and see how the plane handles. If it holds
    altitude on a straight line, this is a good speed. Now work on slow and easy
    turns, work on left and right, flying toward you and maintaining altitude.
    Add a little throttle if the plane can't hold altitude.


    4) Not enough altitude - New flyers are often afraid of altitude. They feel
    safer close to the ground. Nothing could be more wrong. Altitude is your
    friend. As stated above I consider 100 feet, about double tree height where I
    live, as a good flying height and I usually fly much higher than this. Fifty
    feet, is minimum flying height. Below that you better be lining up for
    landing.


    5) Over control - Most of the time the plane does not need input from you.
    Once you get to height, a properly trimmed plane flying in calm air will
    maintain its height and direction with no help from you. In fact anything you
    do will interfere with the plane.

    When teaching new pilots I often do a demo flight of their plane. I get the
    plane to 100 feet, then bring the throttle back to a nice cursing speed. I get
    it going straight, with plenty of space in front of it, then take my hand off
    the sticks and hold the radio out to the left with my arms spread wide to
    emphasize that I am doing nothing. I let the plane go wherever it wants to
    go, as long as it is holding altitude, staying
    upwind and has enough room. If you are flying a high wing trainer and you
    can't do this, your plane is out of trim.

    Even in a mild breeze with some gusts, once you reach flying height, you
    should be able to take your hand off the stick. Oh the plane will move around
    and the breeze might push it into a turn, but it should continue to fly with
    no help from you.

    Along this same line of thinking, don't hold your turns for more than a couple
    of seconds after the plane starts to turn. Understand that the plane turns by
    banking or tilting its wings. If you hold a turn too long you will force the
    plane to deepen this bank and it will eventually lose lift and go into a
    spiral dive and crash. Give your inputs slowly and gently and watch the
    plane. Start your turn then let off then turn some more and let off. Start
    your turns long before you need to and you won't need to make sharp turns.

    I just watch these guys hold the turn, hold the turn, hold the turn, crash.
    Of course they are flying in 10 mph wind, near the ground, coming toward
    themselves at full throttle.

    6) Preflight check - Before every flight it is the pilot's responsibility to
    confirm that the plane, the controls and the conditions are correct and
    acceptable for flight.

    Plane - Batteries at proper power
    Surfaces properly aligned
    No damage or breakage on the plane
    Everything secure

    Radio - Frequency control has been met before you turn on the radio
    A full range check before the first flight of the day
    All trims and switches in the proper position for this plane
    Battery condition is good
    Antenna fully extended
    For computer radios - proper model is displayed
    All surfaces move in the proper direction

    Conditions - No one on the field or in any way at risk from your fight
    You are launching into the wind
    Wind strength is acceptable ( see wind above )
    Sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes
    All other area conditions are acceptable.

    Then and only then can you consider yourself, your plane, radio and the
    conditions right for flight. Based on your plane, your radio and local
    conditions you may need to add or change something here, but this is the bare
    minimum. It only takes a couple of minutes at the beginning of the flying day
    and only a few seconds to perform before each flight.

    If this all seems like too much to remember, do what professional pilots do,
    take along preflight check list. Before every flight they go down
    the check list, perform the tests, in sequence, and confirm that all is right.
    If you want you flying experience to be a positive one, you should do the
    same. After a short time, it all becomes automatic and just a natural part of
    a fun and rewarding day.

    I hope some of this is useful in learning to fly your plane.
    Long Island Silent Flyers
    www.lisf.org
    Eastern Soaring League
    www.flyesl.com

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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    These are good tips. I would like to add one more thing to the "Orientation" step. This helped me when I was learning. When the plane is coming at you, stand so that you are looking over your shoulder at it and the controller is positioned so that right is still right and left is still left. Easier to do than explain.

  3. #3

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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    And when flying inverted stand on your head?
    Raptor 30
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    Saito 1.20

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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Beginners...listen up. Aeajr's advice is well worth heeding. I have only a couple of points I would like to add to this great post.

    First. Orientation is usually lost when flying toward yourself. ALWAYS move the aileron stick toward the LOW wing when flying toward yourself. No thinking involved! This instinct will come later.

    Second. When turning, say to the left as an example; say out loud "left" "left" "left". This way your brain will be ready to correct "right" when leveling out and vice-versa.

    These two points can help keep you out of danger when turning toward you, one wing low, then trying to correct the wrong direction. This type of common mistake will put the plane spinning straight down in a micro-second before you can even figure out what you did wrong.

    Good luck to all you beginners. We want you to succeed!
    "The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival"

  5. #5
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Great post Warhawk! Thanks for adding such valuable advice.

    Safety Hawk, that is an approach I have heard works very well for beginners. In short order you no longer need it, but it can really help you for those first few flights. Great tip!
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  6. #6
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    This post has been very popular on other sites.  Let's bring it back to the top and see if it can help pilots here too.
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  7. #7
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    I'd like to add a comment on Orientation

    This is just something you can try if the Warhlk's post.
    Orientation is usually lost when flying toward yourself. ALWAYS move the aileron stick toward the LOW wing when flying toward yourself. No thinking involved! This instinct will come later.
    doesn't work for you

    When I learned to fly r/c it was on a slope hill, my instructor said, always point the antenna the direction the plane is heading. At first I'd be going 90 deg back and forth, but of course over the years the amount of my body/radio turn became less and less and more and more subtle to the point now (30 years later) it's just something in the back of my mind. Also, this is easier on a slope hill as you're almost always turning away from the hill, not back inside towards yourself.
    You're so smart,, you figured out how to read this!! Or maybe ya just got lucky??

  8. #8
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Great post and thread, aeajr; we don't have enough of piloting techniques here in RCU, I believe.

    For me, learning to trim the model properly, is a great knowledge and skill for any student, the sooner the better.
    Many students have soloed knowing near to zero about trimming, including myself.

    Trimming is a required skill for free flyers, that we RC pilots tend to overlook.

    About speed:
    Management of energy is an important concept to be learned early in the process.
    Good for gliders, for aerobatics and also for dead stick landings, if fuel is to be tried.

    About over control:
    I believe that for other than 3D flying, elevator use is frequently abused and misunderstood.
    Years ago, I received what I believe was a great advice: try to fly a four-channel trainer, using only rudder and throttle, just until before flare.
    From that excercise I learned how to manage altitude with change of airspeed only (instead of AOA only via elevator), and not less important, that my left thumb had work to do in each flight.
    Lnewqban - "God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars. He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much." - Elbert Hubbard

  9. #9
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots


    ORIGINAL: LNEWQBAN

    Great post and thread, aeajr; we don't have enough of piloting techniques here in RCU, I believe.

    For me, learning to trim the model properly, is a great knowledge and skill for any student, the sooner the better.
    Many students have soloed knowing near to zero about trimming, including myself.

    Trimming is a required skill for free flyers, that we RC pilots tend to overlook.

    About speed:
    Management of energy is an important concept to be learned early in the process.
    Good for gliders, for aerobatics and also for dead stick landings, if fuel is to be tried.

    About over control:
    I believe that for other than 3D flying, elevator use is frequently abused and misunderstood.
    Years ago, I received what I believe was a great advice: try to fly a four-channel trainer, using only rudder and throttle, just until before flare.
    From that excercise I learned how to manage altitude with change of airspeed only (instead of AOA only via elevator), and not less important, that my left thumb had work to do in each flight.
    Due to a preflight screw up on my part, not long ago, I actually had to fly one of my gliders this way. It is a R/E throttle design. I had not properly secured the elevator connection. I took off and climbed to height on throttle, with no problem as this plane tends to nose up on high throttle. But when I powered off, I discovered I had not elevator control at all.

    No problem. I could steer with the rudder and, by going into steep bank, I could lose altitude with rudder alone.After the inital climb, I never used the motor again. I circled the field twice, bled off some altitude with the rudder, then brought it in for a nice smooth landing.

    In retrospect I could have used minimul throttle to create drag to help control the glide path, but I didn't need it.

    You can do a lot of flying on the rudder alone. ;-)

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  10. #10
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    I am one of the beginners... 

    I bought a HZ super cub a few weeks ago, and this past Sunday was the first trip out (of three) that didn't end with with the SC in pieces (Hooray!).  There were four flights, five landings (heh heh, meaning one BIG bounce when I accidentally goosed the throttle on touchdown).  I think the advice here is EXCELLENT, and was very helpful.

    I spent a fair amount of time with FMS (which really helped with teh control "inversion" issue) - probably 5-6 hours of fooling around with it.    Im now acrobatic on FMS, not so much with the real controller in my hands.     

    I did one other thing that I think helped a LOT... I did a lot of taxiing.    I took the S/C out into my cul-de-sac - a big square expanse of blacktop.   I "flew" countless patterns there - downwind, base, final.   It helped more with the control inversion, as well as allowed practice with minimized control inputs - big control inputs almost always ended with me over correcting, so I learned NOT to do that.

    The end result was that I managed to touchdown on the street the FIRST time I actually tried, because I only really had to think about altitude and speed.     Out of 4 landing attempts, I was able to touch down on the street three times, the other one I got a bit of a gust that blew me into tall grass.

    Net : For me, I think the SIM and taxi time were invaluable...

    jc





  11. #11
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    JC,

    Great report and great advice.

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  12. #12

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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    definitely a big thanks for pointing us newbs towards FMS. Hopefully they'll get it up to Vista / 7 speed soon.

  13. #13
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    I learned the hard way (although it was cheap) about pre-flight checks. [&:]

    Sent my Super Cup up with the antenna collapsed on the transmitter.  Got about 150 feet away and the engine cut out and the plane nosed into the ground, breaking the firewall, gearbox, prop, and wing struts, and cracking the fuselage slightly.

    It was a good training exercise that cost me about $20 bucks, and I'll never  (yeah right) make that mistake again. So I am grateful this occurred in such an insignificant way, rather than forgetting something on a balsa and plywood expensive plane.

  14. #14
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Since all the new pilots in this forum fly electric, let me point you to this resource which can be found on RCUniverse.  This e-book should answer a lot of questions about electric powered flight.

    EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ELECTRIC POWERED FLIGHT
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots



    I have years of practice on nitro, gas and even Diesel powered RC planes starting in the 1950's.  Getting old I'm now started to begin a ccareer flyng Electric airplanes, started with a memorimal Vietnam type L-4 type Piper J Cub flown to his death in 1968 while doing FAC by a dear friend. I purchased a ARF from China having a 72" wingspan with aerilons, flaps, elevators, rudder and throttle.

    The specs for which i have no understanding for as follows are:

    Motor 3548-890 KW What does this nomenclature mean and wha is a good produt to purchase?

    The ESC calls for a 50A.  Does anyne have a good suggestion for the aelectronic speed acontrol?  I suspect the the ESC is capable of 50 watts.

    Finally,  What are  good LIPO good batteries to invest in?

    Thanks for any suggestions and I'm looking for THE ELECTRIC flying season.

    Regards,

    Natan Huffman
    Freeville, NY


  16. #16
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    PREFLIGHT AND FIRST FLIGHT PROCEDURES FOR PARKFLYERS
    by Ed Anderson
    aeajr on the forums
     
    Here are some quick tips and a "check sheet" for preparing your parkflyer
    for launch.  If you are a new pilot, you really need to heed the wind
    caution. If you are experienced, use your own judgment.
     
    Here is how you prepare for your first flights.  Skip a step and you open
    yourself to problems.
     
    Respect the wind - For new pilots, dead calm to 3 MPH is perfect.  No more
    than 5 MPH for early/training flights or you will be fighting the wind, not
    flying the plane.
     
    1)  Make sure no one is on your channel BEFORE you turn on your radio.  If
    someone is flying on your channel and you turn on your radio, they will
    crash! Check first!  If you are on 2.4 GHz, you can skip this step.
     
    2) Do a range check before the first launch of the day
     
    3) Make sure that battery is fully charged just before the launch.  Not 3
    days ago.  Not last week.  I mean, last night or today!
     
    4) Make sure all your surfaces are properly aligned and move properly before
    you launch.  Check the manual if the surfaces do not appear to be properly
    aligned.  Also make sure your wing is straight!  Check the linkage
    connections
    to be sure they are secure
     
     
    5) CHECK THE TRIMS!  Check the trim slides on the side and below the
    stick(s). Be sure you have not bumped one out of position.  A bumped trim
    can cause the plane to crash.  Make sure the surfaces are properly aligned
    on the tail and the wings.
     
    6) Always launch and land into the wind - ALWAYS
     
    7) If you are hand launching, - good firm level throw or only very slightly
    up.  Never throw the plane upward - Typically you use full throttle.  If
    this is an e-glider, part throttle might be a better choice.
     
    8) Let it fly out and gain speed.  I would say a minimum of 50 feet, and 100
    would be better.  From a hand throw, it will drop a bit, that is OK.  It
    should start to climb all on its own.  If you use the elevator, only use a
    small amount.
     
    The plane must get up to speed before applying strong elevator.  Apply the
    elevator too soon and you will "stall" the wing, the nose will drop and you
    will crash.
     
    IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST FLIGHT AND YOU ARE LEARNING ON YOUR OWN
     
    If your field will allow it, launch, fly out 100 feet or so then come back
    to about 1/4 throttle and let the plane drift down for a landing  straight
    ahead.  Just before the plane touches the ground, cut the motor.
     
    Use the rudder to keep it straight.  Avoid turns.  Do this a few times till
    you understand how the plane launches and lands.  Then you can go for climbs
    and turns.
     
    I fly electrics and gliders.  With my gliders, I ALWAYS do a test glide,
    with a hand throw, straight out then glide to the ground before launching
    off the hi-start or the winch. This confirms that the plane is balanced and
    everything works right. Good idea for electrics as well using that straight
    out launch, under power, then land. Saves much damage and embarrassment.
     
    If the plane is properly trimmed, it should climb on its own at full
    throttle or require only a small amount of up elevator.
     
    Use the elevator carefully!  Unless you are going for a loop, use small
    elevator inputs.  Too much up elevator with the plane flying too slowly will
    cause the nose to rise, the wing to stall and the nose to drop.  Do this
    near the ground and you crash.
     
    Flight tips
     
    Keep your control movement smooth and don't over do it.  Turn before you
    need to so you can give the plane time to react. This is called thinking
    ahead
    of the plane.  Plan you moves.
     
    For three channel parkflyers that use rudder/elevator or two channels that
    only have rudder, don't hold rudder commands for more than a couple of
    seconds.  On these planes, rudder commands will cause the plane to bank, or
    tip over in the direction of the turn.  That is good because that is how
    they turn.  However, if you hold the rudder too long, the
    bank will continue to steepen to the point where the wing will lose lift and
    you will go into a dive or spiral in for a crash.
     
    Of course you read the whole manual several times and watched any videos
    that might have come with the plane before you fly.
     
    Here are some other tips you might find helpful:  Six Keys to Success
    http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355208#post3551513
     
    > Throwing up will make you sick - read from the first post
    http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_3267744/anchors_3708346/mpage_1/key_/anchor/tm.htm#3708346
     
     
    Clear Skies and Safe Flying!
    Long Island Silent Flyers
    www.lisf.org
    Eastern Soaring League
    www.flyesl.com

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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Ahh! these are always helpful! Thanks

  18. #18
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    RE: Six Keys to Success for new pilots

    Here is one that has caught many a new pilot.

    THE ILLUSION OF THE DOWN WIND TURN


    This downwind turn thing comes up from time to time. Others try to explain it in terms of airplanes. If you GET it, don't read this. if not, maybe this will help. Think boat on a river. Water is a fluid, just like air, but you can see it. A lot more people have been in and driven boats than have piloted aircraft. So let's give this a try.

    Your only steering control is the rudder. It only works if it is moving through the water. If you are stationary in the water there is no flow over the rudder so it doesn't do anything. If you are sitting in a still pond and move the rudder, nothing happens.


    The river is flowing downstream at 10 mph relative to the shore. You are floating on the river with no engine or wind power. Relative to the water your speed is zero. This is identical to floating on that still pond since you are moving with the water. Relative to the land you are moving at 10 mph, but who cares. Your rudder doesn't know that. All it knows is that there is little or now water flow around it. You could be sitting in a still pond or you could be floating on a river. Same thing to the rudder.

    You use a paddle to turn the nose of the boat so it faces up stream. You are now drifting backwards. But your rudder still has no control as it is still moving with the water. Doesn't matter which way you face. It is the movement of the rudder THROUGH the water that allows you to steer the boat with the rudder. Meanwhile the land continues to go buy.

    You toss out an anchor. Your speed relative to the water is now 10 mph as that is how fast the water is flowing. It is still doing 10 but, you are stationary compared to the river bank. Relative to the water you are moving at 10 mph. NOW your rudder can wag the back of the boat and steer as water is flowing over it. Your land speed is zero, but who cares. Your water speed is all that matters.

    You pull in the anchor and start to drift with the water again. No rudder authority at all! Do you know why?
    You face the boat down river and turn on the engine and manage to get moving at 10 mph RELATIVE TO THE WATER. Who cares what your land speed, the rudder only cares about the water.

    Since you are moving relative to the water your rudder works again. In fact it is just about as effective as it was when you were anchored.
    What have we learned?

    Land speed means nothing. Water speed means everything.
    Airplanes?

    Land speed means nothing. Air speed means everything. There is no down wind change in the handling of the plane. There is only air speed, your speed relative to the air. How it looks from the ground means nothing.
    Any questions?

    Last edited by aeajr; 07-01-2014 at 04:22 PM.
    Long Island Silent Flyers
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    Eastern Soaring League
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  19. #19
    Ed, one thing from your checklist, that I found out the hard way, is to check the CG! You really should add that to your checklist. Swapping batteries or receivers without re-balancing can cause you grief. Again, thanks for this link.

    Lyle

  20. #20
    Moderator aeajr's Avatar
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    Lyle,

    You raise an extremely good point about the CG. While this is important for kits and ARFs, those pilots tend to be very aware of the importance of CG.

    It is the PnP, BnF and RTF pilots that tend to trip over this issue. The model they purchased comes pre-balanced based on a specific battery, specific components and they have to be in the right spots.

    Well the guy pulls out the 1300 mah pack and puts in a 3300 mah pack and proceeds to destroy the aircraft because it is so nose heavy or tail heavy he can't control it. Naturally the reaction is that his plane is a piece of crap and doesn't fly right, having no idea that he was the cause of the crash.

    I have seen similar things happen when they pull out the light battery, that sits over the CG, and put in the heavy battery that doesn't really fit and throws off the CG. Or it loads the plane, making it so heavy that it flies like crap.

    Balance and weight are not always obvious as issues to these PnP, BnF and RTF pilots.

    Real good point!
    Last edited by aeajr; 07-01-2014 at 04:37 PM.
    Long Island Silent Flyers
    www.lisf.org
    Eastern Soaring League
    www.flyesl.com

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by aeajr View Post
    Lyle,

    You raise an extremely good point about the CG. While this is important for kits and ARFs, those pilots tend to be very aware of the importance of CG.

    It is the PnP, BnF and RTF pilots that tend to trip over this issue. The model they purchased comes pre-balanced based on a specific battery, specific components and they have to be in the right spots.

    Well the guy pulls out the 1300 mah pack and puts in a 3300 mah pack and proceeds to destroy the aircraft because it is so nose heavy or tail heavy he can't control it. Naturally the reaction is that his plane is a piece of crap and doesn't fly right, having no idea that he was the cause of the crash.

    I have seen similar things happen when they pull out the light battery, that sits over the CG, and put in the heavy battery that doesn't really fit and throws off the CG. Or it loads the plane, making it so heavy that it flies like crap.

    Balance and weight are not always obvious as issues to these PnP, BnF and RTF pilots.

    Real good point!
    Not checking the CG on my only other attempt, destroyed the plane I built > 20 years ago, a balsa/Kote 2m plane. Got all hot-to-trot to go fly ran through the checklist, but forgot that one thing. Flying over an old alfalfa field that was partially plowed and, of course, ended up flying over the plowed portion since I couldn't get it turned to stay over the flat. Nice big dirt clod reached up and crushed the nose. I just said f'it, ripped the electrics out and sold 'em all a couple years later. As soon as I let it go, I knew exactly what I forgot, too.

    Lyle


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