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Grass Runway

Old 08-31-2014, 06:15 PM
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ETpilot
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Default Grass Runway

I am getting back into RC flying. I am scratch building an Ugly Stik similar in size to a Great Planes Big Stik. I am going to prepare a runway on my property to fly this plane. What would be a good size for a runway? I am thinking maybe 30' x 100-150'. Any thoughts as to size?

My pastures are all hay fields. I can brush hog the runway then use my mower to finish mow. It can go down to a 1" cut but I think 2- 2 1/2" may be good. I have a site selected that favors the prevailing winds and is fairly smooth. I may have to drag it a bit. Thanks for any info.
Old 08-31-2014, 06:28 PM
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biam
 
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The run way size your wanting to do is to small. The grass run way we fly off of at our club is twice that big at least, on both the length and width. One inch would be the minimum height I would mow to. Good luck with your project.
Old 08-31-2014, 06:32 PM
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150 ft is good for a Stik runway. Provided you have at least twice that between any trees over 60 ft tall.

2" cut should be fine. Build it as a tail dragger and 2-1/2" is OK, too.
Old 08-31-2014, 09:43 PM
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My original weed field was 8 feet wide and about 150 foot long. When we held any type of meet or fly in then we would mow it about 50 foot wide for visiting pilots. There were only two of us really using the field so we only mowed the two passes with our 48 inch deck. It did have a nice open approach to it though. An inch or two height was fine. We were flying small 40 size Up-Roars and 60 size Kaos off of it and I did fly a Sr. Telemaster there a lot. Once the planes touched down roll out was really short. With the nice approach line up on only 8 feet wasn't too bad at all. The surrounding weeds were about 12 to 18 inches high. Other club members didn't want to mow and we got tired of being the only two guys mowing so it turned into our private field except for the two chopper pilots. They just tossed out cardboard sheets and took off and landed from those.
When people showed up to fly and asked why the field wasn't mowed we would point to the mower and say have at it, we were OK with a narrow strip, they always turned around and went home??
Old 09-01-2014, 02:53 AM
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Thanks. I will give 150 a try. This field is pretty clear N-S, prevailing winds, and a little narrower E-W due to trees. Being centered in the field, an E-W landing would not be too much of a problem.

When I used to fly, I was skillful to hit the runway. Now, a beginner again, I will be happy to hit the hay field.
I will get some practice before I try it.
Old 09-01-2014, 06:08 AM
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JohnBuckner
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Although for someone current and proficient with a stick the 150 foot may not be a problem but for someone who may have been idle for many years (lots of unknowns there) and perhaps flying his stick for the first time then that is not a reasonable size. The potential for damage to your airplane on that runway is high without finding a mentor.

I also live in open country and have examined quite a few sites that the fellows either new flyers or returnees thought would be just fine but found out otherwise after the fact. Perhaps the first thing you need to consider since you said you were "skillful to ht the runway" is to ask yourself are you capable of using the rudder and keeping the airplane straight on takeoff? Or were you one to always hook to the left during the takeoff? This is a pretty important consideration on a narrow runway.

John

Last edited by JohnBuckner; 09-01-2014 at 06:11 AM.
Old 09-01-2014, 04:40 PM
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Thanks John. I am rather careful how I go about doing things. Protecting the airplane is key. I will try it when I feel comfortable that I will succeed. I will get some training before venturing on my own.
Old 09-01-2014, 05:57 PM
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150 feet is not near enough. But, if you do 150 feet let us know how it works for you. Others may gain knowledge from your experience.
Old 09-02-2014, 03:03 AM
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Hopefully this instructor I met will maiden fly the plane. This will be off pavement. I will get some idea as to length. I have the room for wider and longer. I could start larger and work smaller to carrier landings as my skill level increases. I will post how it goes. I hope to finish building my plane and get it ready to fly in October. Hay cutting season will be over by then. The pastures will be cut shorter. Looking forward to the first flight.
Old 09-02-2014, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ETpilot View Post
Hopefully this instructor I met will maiden fly the plane. This will be off pavement. I will get some idea as to length.over by then..

I am sorry but your plan is severely flawed, just watching someone fly and takeoff from an asphalt runway will be useless in making any reasonable assessment for a grass runway of from one inch up to the two and one half inchs you described.

John
Old 09-02-2014, 07:34 PM
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And taking off from a 150 ft runway is a different problem than landing on one.
Old 09-03-2014, 01:30 AM
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ET... I fly off 210 feet of rough runway with 6 foot high fences on each end. 150 feet should be "okay" if you get your landing skills back up. I went from flying on 500 feet of paved runway with no obstructions to what I have now and it was a dramatic challenge at first.
Old 09-03-2014, 02:10 AM
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I may not have been too clear in what I plan to do. I am not going to build my plane, have an instructor fly it and then I take over. No way. I plan to get instruction, then fly until I am comfortable flying then give my strip a try. Yes, there is risk but I will try to minimize it as much as possible. I will post my results when I get there. Thanks all for your info and thoughts.
Old 09-03-2014, 04:49 AM
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Your ugly stick will land in a 150 foot runway only after you have gained experience. The sticks are great planes for beginners.

You have a good plan. Stick with it and get as much instructor time as you can. Landing is the most difficult aspect of flying.

Good luck
Old 09-03-2014, 07:32 AM
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perttime
 
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What is outside the strip that you are planning? Hay & weeds? There are people whose most convenient flying sites are over tall grass. They leave out the landing gear (to keep it from ripping off on landing), hand launch, and flop the airplane into the hay for landing.
Old 09-05-2014, 03:24 AM
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With hay season ending in a few weeks the fields will be cut short around the runway. During hay season the hay will grow tall for cutting. This is why when I start flying again I aim tp practice precision take offs and landings. This is key to runway size. Emergency landings is another thing. I have enough clear area for emergency landings.

As as a full scale pilot I always aim for the beginning of the runway. I often see pilot who touch down 1/3 to 1/2 down a runway. Unused runway behind you is useless.

Anyway, I am following my plan. I may have to adjust it as I go down this road. Once hay season is over I will layout a runway may go to 250 for starters and a bit wider. I will use my drag plane to level the area and maybe roll it if needed. I will have to make a roller for my tractor.

Lots to do ahead. Airplane is almost ready for covering. Looking at an October maiden flight. Nervous time ahead. Will post results.
Old 09-05-2014, 05:46 AM
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Is it just not convenient to join a club? I understand wanting to step outside your back patio and go fly, but having a properly set up and maintained runway does wonders for your success. And I can't imagine a scenario where it's cheaper to buy diesel fuel to keep this area mowed and dragged than it is to pay club dues.
Old 09-06-2014, 02:23 AM
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Jester, it is just a matter of convenience and economy. There are 2 clubs available, one over an hour away and the other just under an hour. This is mostly at highway speeds. I have visited both. One is grass but runway orientation makes it best to fly in the afternoon. Not a good time for me. Also it is always locked. I managed to hit it right one day. Old timers fly 2 days a week in the late afternoon. I inquired about instructors and was told the designated instructors do not show up that often. I did not get a good feeling. But, this was just one visit.

At the other club I met an instructor that gave me my first stick time flying an Ugly Stik. He is willing to help but admits he does not fly at the club often. There are, however, other instructors available. This club is at an airport so there are some rules and restrictions for club members. This is the club I will most likely join.

Driving a total of 2 hours to and from just does not appeal to me. It may just take a bit away from the interest. On the economy side, it may cost more to drive to the club than to maintain a runway. I am always here and I am always using my tractor doing one thing or another. It seems easier and more economical here.

Finally, i have kids that vist for the summer. Having a runway here I could try to interest them in RC airplanes and aviation. There love flying in an airplane but I am ready to sell my plane and move on. So RC it is. A runway at home seems best.
Old 09-06-2014, 05:48 AM
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If I had the land to make a runway, I would.
As it is, there's an open space nearby that is very good for parkflyer size airplanes. One guy from the neighborhood flies his electric helicopters there too.
Old 09-06-2014, 05:49 AM
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I used to fly off a gravel road. At 24ish feet wide it was not a problem to land on. I don't remember what I used for landing length but I was flying an Ace Super Pacer. IMO 150 feet or if in doubt 200 feet would be sufficient length. With the surrounding ground being used for hay production you can come in pretty low so the glide slope will not be very steep. Hitting the "end" of the runway should not be an issue with some practice. In fact your landing skills will be the envy of club members.

As far as cutting the grass I would try for around 2 inches. Make sure to use the old rule of thumb of never cutting more than 1/3 of the blade off. The shorter the grass the more important this is. Doing this will cause the grass to tiller and form a nice thick mat of grass.


Ken
Old 09-06-2014, 06:42 AM
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da Rock
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If you can't get the runway size being advised for "full size" models, consider how useful the size you can get will be for smaller models. Also consider flying electric powered gliders there too. Landing them almost at your feet is something most can do.

Fit some models to your flying site and fly.
Old 09-06-2014, 10:34 AM
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I was in the same boat, one club was about 40 minutes away and the other {better} club was right at about an hours drive. When I went down the mountain I got at the good field about 10am and everyone else was on there way out. At about 11 a couple other guys would come out and join me. The locals were afraid of the wind. We would fly until about 5 so it was worth the drive.
Right now I fly from a dry lake bed that is 27 miles away and I like it there, nice guys to hang with. I have another nice little field just down the road from me but I'm usually the only one there, not safe and it is boring without anyone else to fly with. Still, I use it, it's great to have a close runway just for those days I don't want to drive,
I would rather build then fly but I enjoy getting out with the guys for a few hours. Today was great seeing everyone, no wind to speak of and it was under 100 but HUMID!! Heat I don't mind but humid tends to make the day shorter. A home field is nice, you can invite the people you enjoy over to fly and BBQ.
Old 09-06-2014, 10:48 AM
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I fly most of the time over hay fields with hand launched planes. 1 pound planes can hit chest high hay at "crashing speed" and never reach the soil. If I need to clear an area for pitting, I just drive around in circles for a few minutes, then lay out a plastic tarp.
Old 09-06-2014, 11:01 AM
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I used to fly from a crop dusters field and it is surrounded by orchards and farms. When the farms had corn growing and the plane crashed in a field the duster pilot would fly his chopper over the corn and located the plane for us and hover until we got it. When the farmers planted some tall grass fodder, about 4 feet high you could ditch a plane without any damage. One year the harvester driver came in with a lost plane that went through the thrasher. The plane was out there for a week. The plane was total trash but the engine, RX and three servos made it in one piece. The runway was so narrow I don't see how a full scale plane could take off and land there. We used an area for take off and landing they used for filling the choppers and planes with the spray, it was nice and wide.
Old 09-06-2014, 11:31 AM
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Make your runway 700 X 80, that way when you want to move up to bigger models you won't have any issues. Also a bigger runway allows more room for error
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