Monday, 28 November 2016

West Wings Aurora, review part 1

Thinking ahead to balmy summer days of light-wind soaring I thought I'd offer a progress report on my rendition of this lightweight beginners' kit from West Wings.
Of course I didn't follow the plan/instructions to the letter because I wanted to 'improve' the model.
When I bought the kit I was really looking for something like the Graupner Dandy, an example of which I flew 40 years ago when a colleague of my father's gave me a lesson atop Mount Caburn; as I recall the flight ended abruptly and messily. The Dandy Mk III is currently available but only in ARTF format for £140, so for a more authentic nostalgic experience I opted for the Aurora kit and will take inspiration from the Dandy's colour scheme when I cover it.
Like all West Wings models it's a well engineered kit, the components are neatly cut and fit together perfectly. However, it is very light and feels in need of some localised reinforcement.
I added extra balsa to the inside corners of the fuselage for strength and to allow for more rounding-off with the razor plane. I also put a layer of glass cloth on the inside-front-half of the fuselage and at the tail end where the fin and tailplane are glued on. Having never liked the odour or messiness of two-part epoxy or polyester resin I tried water-based floor varnish to bind the glass instead – it seems to be equally effective and I washed the brush under the tap!
The Graupner Dandy is the same size as the Aurora, but the wings are separable, which is handy. So, in an attempt to create a 'rucksack-able' model, I made a two-piece wing by gluing 1/4 x 1/8inch full-length spruce spars into the ribs, then cut a wing joiner out of an aluminium/ply sandwich to slide between the spars.
Some careful cutting and ironing of red and white Solartex should create a pleasing two-tone finish...


Russell H

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Dont stand so close to me.......

A cloudy old day up on Ditchling Beacon today. Ian A, Bob P, Jim, Will and I all got plenty of flying in. I flew my Willow 2. Which on the first landing met up with the fence as I didn't realise that I was actually behind the fence - DOH! Luckily I was almost down when the collision happened. Had a few more flights and eventually managed to get some on board footage using a suction mount and my RunCam 2 camera.
Need to move the camera round a bit as the wide angle lens distorts the nose a bit but the quality of the video was surprisingly good for a dull old November day.
Ian flew his big mouldy, M60 and the horrible little red brick and impressed us all with just the perfect landing at the end with his big heavy old mouldy. Jim got on well today and was demonstrating some smooth flying and continues to improve. Will flew his foamy Jart which he was flinging around the sky like a mad man. he worked with Ian to really improve his landings. Bob, seemed to have a load of models today which he worked his way through during the morning and showed some real skill today.
Oh yes - why the title 'Don't stand so close to me' well this was what seemed to happen when I stood next to someone on the hill there model would do strange things and possibly crash! We put this down to my lead underpants getting in the way of the signal. Ian, Will and Jim will all corroborate this story.

Not a bad day for late November.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

BMFA Fees for 2017 Remain Unchanged

Hi All,
Great news from the BMFA today, following their meeting on 19th November, they have announced the 2017 fees as below from their web site - - 
The Society Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 19th November, has agreed the subscriptions for 2017 which will remain at the same level as for 2016.
BMFA Subscriptions for 2017 are as follows.
(Apply from 1st December 2016)
Seniors £33
Juniors £17
Family Senior £33
Family Partner £22
Family Junior £13


I will be sending members an email asking about renewal in the next day or two and detailing how to proceed.

Rob Stanley - Hon. Sec.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A light wind day at Mill Hill

I was expecting a light breeze and when I got up to Mill Hill I wasn't disappointed. Ian A and Ian D were already there and ready to go. I rigged the Expro mouldy (light wind thermal soarer) and started the day with a number of flights of just cruising around from thermal to thermal. Ian A was doing the same with his Shadow. Then joined by Scott and Graham. Ian D and Will spent a good while flying of the lower shelf with there light foamies. We were also joined by Kevin B. Twice in a week Kevin, watch it or you will get yourself a bad name!
The wind picked up briefly and Graham and Ian flew the heavier mouldies and Scott flew his Dragon with just a little help with the landings. Spent some time going through the landing options with Scott. Rain was looming bit we carried on through the hail and soft lift. Had a spell with my Weasel which loved the light conditions which was more can than be said for our M60's (fully loaded) and Will's Jart.
With virtually no wind / lift we called it a day and left.
Was worth the effort with everyone managing to get some good flying practice in given the lighter conditions. A good effort shown by Ian D, Will and Scott in a some what challenging session.
Roll on the next one!!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Part 3 - Planning Ahead

Right, now we have acquired the skills to put the glider where we want it in the sky and can manage to maintain controlled level turns its time to start looking at our landings.

To me all landings start with PLANNING and for me this starts before you even launch your glider off the slope. So many times I see people walk up to the slope switch the model on and launch without much consideration for any other model flyer on the slope or the conditions that are around them.

Model Pre-Flight Checks

I know it sounds strange but don't get this bit right or you may not be able to attempt any sort of landing. Please check and confirm:
  • Battery power good in both the model and transmitter
  • Transmitter switched on to the right model
  • Range check if you are doing a maiden or if you have any concerns over connectivity
  • Controls move in the direction they should.
  • Model fit for flight. i.e. nothing falling off. no sticking control surfaces etc..........
  • If its sunny - do you need sunglasses.
  • Cold weather - wearing suitable clothing
  • Is your model suitable for the conditions in front of you. i.e. too windy, not enough lift etc.....
  • Flying with suitable BMFA Insurance
Flying Site Checks

Another one that seems very obvious but it all worth mentioning.

  • If its a new site then go and talk with any of the local fliers. Find out where it's good to fly and where its advised not to fly. How good the lift is, Where to land etc.
  • Site rules - Any restrictions on height. Some sites are run by a specific club and open to members only. Many sites you will share the sky with Paragliders / Hang gliders which have always have the right of way. Where do they take off / land. Go and talk to then if needed.  
  • Even if you fly at the same site week after week the conditions will change from day to day or even hour to hour. The wind strength effects both the lift and just as importantly the sink (curl over) generally situated behind the slope. Its just a consideration you need to have thought about before you get flying
  • Landing area - every flying site will have a different type of landing area which may require a different type of approach and circuit. Some sites you land on the side of the slope, some have large flat tops and others have limited amount of space to touch down on. Take time to understand what's available and if possible watch others how they land on the slope. Get an idea before you get into the air where you want your model to land. Don't leave the decision until you are making your final turn.
  • When landing will you have any issues with walkers, horses or obstacles on approach i.e tree's, fences etc.
Make these decisions now and hopefully you will not get any nasty surprises as you move onto your landings.

Checks done and we have launched our model, so its on to Part 4

Grab yourself a warming bargain!

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  • Beanie Hat
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Helping you to stay warm up on the slopes!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sunday 13th November - Devils Dyke

When we arrived the Dyke we were greeted to a beautiful site of the cloud streaming UP the slope.
The wind was a good strength and NNW as forecast. We had a good turn out today despite some of the regulars being out of action. There was me (funny that) Will, Ian D, Jim, Bob, Graham, Bernie and Kevin.
We all enjoyed ourselves floating around in and out of the cloud early on but it brightened up to give a very nice November day on the slopes. Tried out some of my Landing Instruction which I hope went down ok?
Here are some of the guys out today:
Ian D

Thanks to all who attended, especially nice to see Bernie and Kevin out on the slopes.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

'Landing Briefings'

Hi all. as you may well have already read but I am attempting to put my idea's and thoughts down on paper to help share a little of my knowledge which I hope will in turn help others. I'm no expert but I have spent many hours trying to improve and have found certain things have helped me overcome some of the obstacles that I can see some of you are struggling with today.
I will try and post something each week if at all possible. Breaking down the landing side of flying down into manageable size chunks. Nothing is written into stone and its just advice so take from it what you can.
Some off you more experienced guys might have different idea's from myself and I would love to hear your suggestions and have your input as we all have slightly different ways of flying, so please share your idea's and tell me if you think there is a better way of doing something.
That's the great thing about our sport, everyday is different and we all do things in a slightly different way but nobody id necessarily wrong. Lets use this blog / 'Landing Briefings' page to share our experiences as we have all either got to overcome the many challenges of landings or we continue to strive to get better!

Look at the top left hand side of the blog's front page under 'Landing briefings' to view each new chapter as it is written.

Feel free to comment or email me your idea's / suggestions and I will post your comments up on the blog to share with everyone. It would be great to hear from the guys who are at the early stages of landings. Please share your experiences and thoughts.

It's sharing that makes this blog work and encourage people back to read more. I need your help guys!!!


Landing Brifing Notes - Part 1

Don't be in a hurry to attempt those landings - learn the basics first!

Its taken me many years to get to a point where I can land an RC glider roughly where I planned to land it but saying that it still goes wrong at times. I want to share the thought processes which I use when landing an RC glider on the slope. I am no expert and every time I land I hopefully gain a little bit more understanding on how and why things have happened and this helps me to build experience and confidence with the glider I am flying and the slope that I am flying from.

Like with anything in life we need to learn how to do something. We learn through repetition and we learn through mistakes along the way and unfortunately there will be many mistakes made but the main thing is that we learn what and why things went wrong and try to get it better the next time.
These days you can choose from a wide range of EPP foam flying wings slope soaring gliders. These are relatively cheap to buy and simple to build. They offer stable flight and a good base to start out when learning the basics of RC soaring.

Before we get to the landing stage of RC slope soaring we need to get the fundamentals right first. We need to have gained sufficient experience and stick time out in the lift in front of the hill. Don't be in a rush to learn to land. Learn to control your glider and when you start flying in a proactive manner rather than a reactive one then that's the point that we can start to look at our landings.  Now what do I mean by reactive and proactive flying?

When we first start out someone else generally gets your model established up in the lift and in most cases you will crab back and forth trying to keep the model in front off you and turning away from the hill. To win this part of the battle you need to learn the basic stick inputs to keep the model in the air and to keep in the lift. This type of flying I like to refer to as reactive. With time and as your experience and confidence grows you will start thinking ahead. moving the model around the sky and putting the model where you want and at the height you want to fly at and this is what I call proactive flying. You have the control and experience to fly the model confidently on the slope. You're reactions start to become automatic in situations that before would have caused the model to loose control. A little bit like when you start to learn how to drive. You have to get the feet working together with your hands of the steering wheel and look at the road plus change gear. At the beginning its all a bit much to take in but with time and practice it starts to become easier and you then start doing these difficult things subconsciously and without to much thought. This is where you need to be before attempting your landing as being in control will take away just one off the difficult elements you need to worry about when trying to bring your model back to earth.

When you are feeling reasonably in control of your flying in the air and you feel confident having the model flying where you want it and at a fairly constant attitude / speed then it might be time to try and think about those landings.

Now move onto Part 2 of our briefing notes........

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Keeping warm while up on the slope

A major problem with our sport is how to keep your fingers, feet and face warm and protected from the biting wind chill while trying to enjoy yourself up on the slope.

The big problem for me is keeping my fingers warm. I personally can't fly in gloves. I loose the sensitivity between my thumb and forefinger. So what's the answer??
Above is a fairly cheap transmitter glove. Lightweight and easy access for your hands getting to the transmitter inside. The clear plastic top gives you good visibility through to the transmitter and its screen. I have flown with one of these over the last winter. Plenty of room to sit your fingers on top of the sticks and I must say it kept my fingers nice and toasty. If you fly with a mitt / glove then you will need someone else to launch your model which is no real big problem unless you are a solo flyer.
I purchased mine through Hobby King but make sure you are buying this from the UK warehouse as you don't want a shock paying for transatlantic postage - Click Here to view.........
How about heated fingerless gloves. I haven't flown with these but it seems like an option to me.
These are available from Heat Packs UK. You simply insert a heat pack into the back of the glove and they say it should keep warm for up to 10 hours. Keeps your fingers free to feel the sticks and switches. Click Here to view........
What about your feet? A good set of thermal boots should be worn but for me the standing around sometimes leaves me with cold feet / toes. I found this on eBay and have placed my order for a set of these electric heated socks. Powered by two AA batteries.
Apparently heats up within a minute but will have to wait and see until I get to wear them up on the slope. Click Here to view.........

A must for me is my faithful old balaclava. Keeps the ears and neck warm. Any exposed skin will soon get chilled by the cold wind. Cover up with a good warm balaclava.
Last but not least is a set of ski goggles. The strong wind blowing you in your face will make your eyes water without some sort of protection. These placed over the top of your balaclava will give you complete protection.
Finally How do you keep your body warm and free from chilly winds finding its way into those exposed area's. I swear by my Salopettes which are both windproof and thermal. Didn't cost a fortune but means I can wear a good thermal winter coat over the top and it keeps the wind out and my legs warm.

Its worth investing in some decent warm gear to keep you toasty on the slope. Nothing worse than freezing your bits off just because you haven't dressed to match the weather conditions.

Please let us all know if you have found something that keeps you warm up on the slope.

Monday, 7 November 2016

We all would like to Improve, right?

Landing Clinic

I think most of us would agree that the landing part of our hobby seems to create the most stress and worry of most peoples flying today.
You learn the basics of control and then you master the launch but the landings seem to be different every time and if we are lucky we manage to land somewhere near where we wanted or if not so lucky end up in a long walk or even a broken model.
I have been flying for many years and I still get it wrong and get caught out by the curl over (sink) the wind gradient or one of the many other factors that can catch us out when trying to land.
I was always taught that you should practice your landings and not just make one attempt when your hands are frozen or you have to go home.
So, I would like to offer my services with the help of others to demonstrate, discuss, help, re-assure, mentor what ever word best sums up an offer to improve your landings.
I'm no expert but until an expert appears on our doorstep myself and Ian A aim to help improve those landings which will hopefully improve your understanding and enjoyment of flying RC gliders.
We can buddy you up to one of our transmitters to be with you on the sticks. We can talk you round the circuit but I think everyone of us should take a few moments before each flight and think about your landing before you throw your model off.
Pre-flight checks - Inspect you're model out before you chuck it off. Do all the controls move in the direction they should? Do you have enough battery charge within the model to fly safely, Wind strength, site conditions, landing area, other hazards. All these and probably more should be taken into consideration before you launch your model. If you are not sure then don't launch and ask for some advice / assistance.
Lets make this hobby safe and enjoyable guys.
Please let me know if you would be interested in joining in on a 'Landing Clinic' below in the remarks section. We need to keep improving and pushing ourselves but we need to do this safely!!
I have spoken with Ian and we will aim to start these landing clinics this Sunday if at all possible with a de-brief down the pub afterwards to discuss any issues / progress over a pint and a sarnie (if you wish).

My idea is that we have a chat / briefing with those who want to listen before we / you take to the skies. It's not mandatory and its being offered with improvement in mind. Mine as well as yours.

With understanding will come more enjoyment!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

First of the frost bite days..........

Today was one of those mega cold but mega beautiful days that I love. Frozen puddles when I arrived up at Devils Dyke and not the strongest of breezes. Met up with Rob and Andrew closely followed by many others.
The views were just staggering.
Here is Ian's SAS Start Jet looking West to Truleigh Hill and beyond. We moved a few times as the wind wasn't really on any of the slopes but we finally ended up on the main slope as there were none of our paraglider friends (which makes a big change).
There were seven of our group up on the hill including me, Rob, Andrew, Ian A, Ian D, Bob P and Ray L plus a load more from the Brighton club. We also bumped into our friend Richard Wade who bought my Pik and Rob's SAS Apache (which he flew today).
Rob spent some time teaching Ray L the rudiments of flying with the Scooter and a buddy TX system, but a broken servo put an end to the session - Ray did OK and will be back for more soon. Andrew, Ian D and Bob all flew their various foamies with Ian D trying his new 60" Wildthing which went very well. Andrew had some issues with his Sky Cruise whereby the motor (which was disabled) kept starting up in flight so that needs investigating and Bob had his newly re-covered Wildthing which looked very smart indeed with artwork made from his laser cutter..
 Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves with Rob finally getting his hands on his Mini Vec which he flew very well until the ground jumped up and grabbed his model which ended a very smooth flying display - Well done Rob (no harm came to the Mini Vec, but Rob's pride was dented !). I had various flights with my Aresti which I am pleased to say is becoming easier with time. I find that confidence can be an issue and if the nerves kick in the confidence wanes. But by keep bashing on at it and understanding your models little quirks you will get better and find things slot into place over time.
I did see some very nice flying from our boys up there today as they managed to get loads of stick time which again builds confidence and control.
Myself and Ian a kept retiring back to the warmth of the car. A swift cup of tea and back out into the cold. By the end the sky was awash with various models foamies, mouldies, 1/4 scale Pirat and the odd full size glider chugging through.
Thanks to all who came and made it a very good mornings flying.