RE: 2010 NATS Article
A breif word about my equipment.
The Black Magic is from Competition Airframes of America (Mike Hester). I know Mike has been out for a while due to health reasons, but this aircraft is really a work of art to put together (if interested, I did a complete building thread on this plane). I hope someone picks it up and offers the kit again. I feel that building the model, as painful as it is, provides a closer connection to the plane- keeps the interst level peaked and motivates me more. If you spend any more then a few hours a week on-line (I know I do) then you have time to build a kit. I did a couple of tweeks to the plane, on my own. I tried a smaller profile on a cantilizer which worked pretty well and a good compromise between the tall one I had on my first black magic, and how when it flew with no cantilizer. The plane does not need a cantilizer if you fly faster like Arch Stafford, but my style is slower and the cantilizer creates some extra side lift and (pitch and roll) stability particularly at slower speed. The other item I used was barn door ailerons on the Focus wing. This was an AA wing that Dave Guerin put together several years ago when AA was just getting started. The wing provided clean and predictable snaps as a result. I did have to increase the aileron differential by about 3 percent.
I used YS 170 DZ with glow plug. An attached picture shows the simple setup with a single wire held in place with black smoke tubing. The smoke tubing works better than any head locking device I've ever used. It shrinks slighly with the heat (keeping the wire on the top glow plug) but flexible to provide strain relief to the wire.
The YS ran flawlessly all week. It is a CDI engine and I ran lower oil (down to about 7 percent oil). The fuel mileage is much lower than with CDI, but I felt the reliability (for the NATS) kept things simple. The cool power fuel has kept the engine running cooler and well lubricated. I don't have any special ducting within the cowl for the engine. I do run it slightly on the rich side.
The JR 12x and servos were precise and performed extremely well. I like the expo curves and flight mode options for the 12x. I reduced the aileron and rudder for the spins with provided clean entry and more precise exit. I used 8411 servos on the ailerons, 9411 servos on the elevators and 8611 on the rudder.
One of the things that surprised me was how many complements I got during the week regarding the plane and my flying. Dave Lockhart indicated that he could tell the plane was new and that I was connecting better with it. Many folks really liked the finish of the plane. I clear coated the front and canopy (after a trip to the paint store to get perfectly matching red paint). The DU-4 urethane enamel looked (and looks) wet. It practially was, since we just got it clear coated less than a week before leaving for the NATS. With almost no sanding (and no sanding at all on the canopy) the clear coat flowed well and blended all the paint-to monokote/ ultracote lines. Of course Joseph gets credit for picking the tail color scheme and JR graphic.
I was more relaxed this year and enjoyed making many new friends. Maybe its because I'm getting older, maybe its because I'm not taking this flying thing as seriously any more. In any event, I missed making the team by two people which was a really big deal since I had not finished that strong in the placings (with the full field of top FAI competitors) since 2004 (Quique and Sean are missed, however). A big part of enjoying the event had to do with my caller, Bill Ahrens. We met briefly in the past, but this week he asked for some help Sunday evening, and we both agreed to help each other throughout the week by calling and assisting each other. Bill's goal was to make the semi-finals and my goal was to make the finals. We changed our goal and improved our attitude after the first (poorly flown) round. Bill made his goal to get in the finals and my goal was to make the team. Everything we did from that point forward was different and constructive. It made a big difference in how we performed, most notibly our attitudes going into, and exiting each round. Thanks Bill for all the help during NATS week.