|Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: September 2005 | Views: 48009 | Email this Article
by: Greg Covey
an opportunity to help someone comes along when you least expect
it. For me, it all started one day at work last spring when I
received an e-mail from a soldier in Iraq. The e-mail read as
Laine Stahr: Sir, would you be
willing to take a little time to help me out. I am in Iraq for
10 more months. This is my second year long tour over here. Last
year I had my helicopter over here, but the sand was too harsh
on it. This year I have my (Great Planes) Slinger over, but I'm
selling it and replacing it with a brushless Tazz. I haven't had
any Zagi before but I read your posts about building it so that
helps. Basically what I need is a very complete list of what I
need to order as it takes weeks to get things over here. Since
I have no experience with building a Zagi, I don't want to forget
anything. You seem to know what batteries, charger etc... work
the best for the Tazz. I have never had a brushless power system
so I would appreciate your experience with this.
of you may have heard about Frankie Mayo's inspiring effort to
provide air conditioners to as many soldiers as possible in Iraq.
The effort became known as Operation
I received the e-mail from Sergeant Laine Stahr (RCU member 'lmopar69')
stationed over in Iraq, I learned about his desire to fly a brushless
Zagi Tazz since the sand and harsh conditions grounded his R/C
helicopter. The troops can go for days without an assignment so
they often look for ways to keep busy. Sergeant Stahr had seen
my Zagi Tazz review thread on RCU and wanted to know what other
support items would be needed so it could be shipped all together.
Shipments take a while to get to the soldiers so it is a priority
to have everything you need in one shipment.
the help of a co-worker that was a Navy veteran, I decided to
provide more than just advice to Laine and try to solicit exactly
what he needed to make his Zagi Tazz fly in Iraq. This effort
became known as "Operation R/C" out of respect for Frankie
can read more about Sergeant Stahr on the Web site created by
his brother, Van, at Stahr
Enterprises or on the RCU forum thread aptly named Operation
R/C Start Up:
Laine Stahr (RCU member 'lmopar69') proudly displays his
Zagi Tazz while stationed over in Iraq
seemed to have a snow-ball effect after that initial effort
of contacting vendors for support and the so-called "Operation
R/C" began to have a life of its own supported by vendors,
hobbyists, veterans, and even other on-line forums.
Zagi Tazz rips up the dessert terrain with brushless motor
power and Lithium battery technology.
Lobby Int. became the initial sponsor for "Operation R/C"
by donating a complete Hitec Laser 4 FM Radio System with 555
receiver and two HS-81 servos. The 72MHz. radio system included
elevon and V-tail mixing. It is a perfect compliment for my target
Zagi Tazz project and provided further inspiration to acquire
only a single e-mail to Joe and Jerry Teisan of Trick R/C, the
brushless Zagi Tazz was on its way! FMA Direct also supported
the cause by donating a complete Lithium package that included
a Kokam Lithium pack and charger. The 3-cell Kokam 3.2AH Lithium
pack is a perfect fit and weight for the Zagi Tazz to make it
a ballistic performer!
sent the Lithium pack, charger, radio system, and Zagi Tazz via
USPS to the Army Post Office (APO) address that Laine had given
us. It turns out that the local Post Office in my suburb of Rochester
was the only place I needed to go to. The customs page is a small
sheet the size of an old charge card receipt so I grabbed a few
extras to have them filled out in advance. I simply put "toy
airplane" for the description of the contents.
UPS and Fed. Ex., the USPS does not fill out a mailing label so
you need to address the box in advance. They sell mailing labels
for $0.49 cents so I filled one out. It made me laugh because
it had some kids designs on it almost like it was for a present.
I said to the clerk, "Do you know that this is going to a
U.S. soldier?!", and they said that's all they have. I just
smiled and shook my head.
seemed to have a snow-ball effect after that initial effort and
the so-called "Operation R/C" began to have a life of
its own supported by vendors, hobbyists, veterans, and other on-line
forums. Sergeant Stahr became a bit overwhelmed and offered this
message of thanks
among many others.
Laine Stahr: First off, THANK
YOU ALL!!! This really is more than I ever would have expected
anyone to do for us! I really don't think I can express just how
much this will mean to my buddies and I. You guys are just great!
will start to list some info on the soldiers that have expressed
interest in learning to fly. I am sure 90% of them would do it
given the opportunity, but they just haven't asked. Anyway, here
are a few of them, I will also put our address at the end.
are a HET (Heavy Equipment Transport) unit. That means we haul
Tanks, with really HUGE trucks. We stay pretty busy on the road,
but we usually get downtime after each mission to wash clothes,
fix trucks etc... and sometimes even entire days where we do NOTHING!!
Anyway, you can see the trucks at www.stahrenterprises.com
Doug Clayton - Doug has some r/c experience. He has a Associated
RC10GT that I convinced him to buy when we came home after our
tour here last year. He saw me fly my slinger and asked me to
Paul Dowdy - Paul is my room mate over here. He has zero exp.
with any r/c but has been bugging me to fix my slinger and teach
Greg Reese - Greg is the Harley guy in the platoon. He also has
no exp. with r/c other than he used to have a walmart type r/c
Jericho Beauchamp - Cool guy, he works in our MWR right now, so
he gives me unlimited time to send these posts on the computers
instead of making me get off after 30 min like everyone else has
to! Also no real r/c exp.
Chris Caron - Chris has a little exp. with r/c cars but not with
Troy Davis - Troy is another interresting individual. Troy analyzes
everything. VERY smart guy and a good friend.
Fred Kelo - This is my platoon leader (officer). We have to keep
him happy, cuz when the boss man is happy, we are happy! He has
a degree in meteorology. Go figure, now he is a Army Transportation
Once again, I cant thank all of you enough! This is just great.
mailing address is as follows:
13 CSB, 2nd Trans, 2nd Plt
APO AE 09393
and Flying in Iraq:
Laine received all the parts to build his Zagi Tazz, he realized
that he had no chairs or flat table to work on. This didn't seem
to slow him down for more than a day as he built a table and chairs
from surplus plywood. Apparently, the Army has taught him to be
I wanted to start the building today but I had a problem.
No place to work except on the floor. So, I had to build
a table and chair to have a place to work! Now there is
a problem, I'm sure most people in the states don't have!
In fact, that's a new one for me too.
I brought a bunch of my wood tools over here with me,
and have had some sent over too. So, after a days work
moving lumber, cutting, nailing, measuring, screwing,
sanding etc... I now have a really cool looking table
and a double chair with a "table" in between.
luck, I will not have to spend all day tomorrow working
on my truck and I will get started on the Tazz. I like
the idea of using "US Army" on the bottom, or
maybe "An Army of one" All I have is the roll
of blue tape that came with the Tazz.
Finished Zagi Tazz
started to build the Tazz and was already finished before the
first photo came through. The Tazz was completed in only a day.
Unfortunately, military duties got in the way of test flying it,
(sound familiar?) so we wouldn't have a flight report until another
week or so. We wished him luck on the maiden voyage!
a week or so, we received Laine's first flight report from Iraq.
First IRAQ Flight Today! I finally got to fly the Tazz! But first,
let me tell you all about how things went before the flight.
weather today is sunny, about 70 and a 15-20mph wind. Doug had
tried to fly his Aerobird before I got back "home" to
teach him. Luckily he didn't damage it. So, against my urging
not to fly in the wind, we took it out. I planned on putting it
in the air and trimming it out for him, then letting him take
over. It took off beautifully into the wind in about 5 feet and
kept climbing. At about 150 feet the wind was basically overpowering
both the motor and the controls. So, I tried to convince it to
fly toward us (into the wind) but it had other ideas. So, naturally
I cut the throttle and tried to bring it down into the wind so
it would come a little closer. Not a chance. I landed it about
500 meters away. We couldn't tell for sure if it was still inside
the fence or not! Outside the FOB (Forward Operating Base) would
have been BAD! No way to go get it! He now knows why you dont
fly an Aerobird in 20mph wind. So, with any luck the wind will
die down this evening and we will get some flight time in with
it was TAZZ TIME!!! The LiPo was charged, the plane was as perfect
as I could make it. I stood there holding it, ready to launch,
rethinking everything in my head to make sure I didn't forget
anything. I checked everything again and noticed my legs were
shaking. The guys razzed me a little. "Go man, its just a
toy!" yeah right, just a toy plane. I put in a little up
elevon just to be safe, gave it about 1/4 throttle and tossed
it. With just a slight trim left and centering the elevons again,
it flew PERFECT!! Flat, level and HOLY CRAP IS THIS THING FAST!!!!!!
I never even saw full throttle! About 2/3throttle is all I had
the guts for. I did a few laps and played around a bit at about
100 feet to get used the controls. Very responsive! And power,
WOW! Who needs full throttle with this MONSTER! With just a slight
flick of the stick it does about a 10 foot loop with about 1/4
to 1/2 throttle. I couldn't even imagine what would happen if
I pulled the stick all the way back, or if I wound out that brushless
motor! That motor and LiPo battery have more power than I may
ever need or want! I did a few loops and rolls, and even accidentally
did one loop while rolling...scared the crap out of myself too,
but it looked really cool. I flew it for about 20 minutes, knees
shaking the entire time, then brought it in slow and low to land
in the sand. It skidded to a nearly perfect landing about 25 feet
I will say it again.... THANK YOU ALL SOOOOOO MUCH for donating
the planes, radios, batteries and everything else that you have
all sent. Even though the guys didn't get the chance to fly yet,
they will tonight, we had a blast. Thank you.
Warlock is a military device designed to find a signal,
lock onto it, and jam it! The Warlock searches continuously
until if finds a signal, then it "changes" the
signal so it can't be detected.
day when the guys were flying, another soldier decided it would
be great fun to knock them out of the sky. Although some had fun,
Laine was not amused.
Just a reminder, THANK YOU for starting this entire thing! You
would not believe the response we have gotten from people asking
if they can send us planes, parts etc... its amazing. We have
6 planes here now that people have sent over, 7 transmitters,
various motors, batteries, receivers and other parts. Plus we
have 8 or 10 more planes and kits on the way. All of us are having
a blast. THANK YOU!
down side, I had a horrendous, well, to me, crash with the Tazz
yesterday due to a schmuck with one of those dang Warlock things.
It was intentional too, I could have killed him. I saw it glitch,
so I cut the throttle to land quick, and the Warlock took over
and maxed out the throttle and spun it in from about 20' nose
first. I was HOT! Anyway, the LiPo pack got destroyed and I almost
cried. The hatch and motor tray are toast, but that's it. So,
I'm ordering the new parts from Trick R/C as soon as they have
them back in stock.
Warlock is a military device designed to find a signal, lock onto
it, and jam it. It is used for stopping the "radio controlled"
IEDs the insurgents are putting out. They typically use garage
door openers, walkie-talkie type radios, cell phones, or a combination
of radio and phone to detonate their devices. The Warlock searches
continuously until if finds a signal, then it "changes"
the signal so it can't be detected. They have a range of about
100-200 meters. There are 2 types of Warlock devices now and we
know that one of the many frequency bands it scans is 72MHz. When
FMA Direct heard the news of Laine's destroyed Lithium pack, they
quickly sent him a free new pack to keep him flying!
several weeks of silence without hearing from Laine, I started
asking around to find out what was going on. I received a reply
from his brother, Van, that said he was back in the states and
would e-mail me shortly.
Hey Greg, I just got back from Iraq a couple days ago, and all
is good. But you are reminding me of my wife when I don't call!
Thanks for the concern though, it's nice to have people who care.
will be getting those 35mm pics out to you in a couple days, I
hope they turn out well. We aren't professional photographers
we will see.
just got a school date. They are sending me to Warrant Officer
School then flight school starting in September. So the unit said
I need to stay here in the States to prepare for school and get
ready to move. However, there are still a bunch of guys over in
Iraq flying and I am working on getting some more stuff together
to send over for my buddies and some of the other soldiers. Hope
it all works out good.
perhaps we'll see Laine or one of the other R/Cers from the military
at a flying event or trade show. Until then we hope they stay
safe and wish Laine the best of luck in his helicopter flight
training. One final note to Sergeant Laine Stahr, his band of
R/Cers in Iraq, and all the men and women of the U.S. armed forces...
you for your service to our country!
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