Members Stories

 

This is a new feature where members can send in "their story" of aeromodelling to

asec@saaweb.uk one story will be selected each month and be featured.

(Thanks for a great story Daniel - see below) 

 

Daniels introduction to modelling and passing his Bronze.

 

(Photo shows Daniel with the Ron Fraser trophy for most improved cadet in RC flying) 

 

I had always had the ambition to build an RC plane or really any aircraft but had always assumed it was either pricey or too intricate for me to accomplish. This all changed when the S & NI region of the ATC started up RC flying allowing me to get a closer look at the hobby. The programme was originally instigated by The Scottish Aeromodellers Association (SAA)

 

When RC flying first started in my squadron, I was one of the first to take it as a project. It began as a setup on a computer with a control box and since has evolved into two separate venues – RAF Kirknewton airfield and Falkirk Model Flying Club field, the latter of which is where I learnt how to complete the tasks necessary to pass the SAA Bronze qualification. When the squadron was first starting to regularly go to the Falkirk Model Flying club, I had decided to build my own plane so as to allow me to fly at the club more often, allowing me to get more experience on the control box. The plane I built was in the style of a US group called Flite Test. They have made the hobby much more approachable for people with not very much time to spend building a plane out of balsa that as a beginner would likely not last in good shape and would soon need repaired. This is a fact I learnt quite swiftly, but the foam board design allowed me to repair it on field with no more needed than a hot glue gun which did raise some eyebrows as this model building technique had evidently not been seen in the club before. When I first brought it down some even questioned the airworthiness but it did indeed fly and what a sight it was… christened The Red Thing, due to the matt red paint, it could only just complete a loop, it had a DIY landing gear but it did indeed fly and taught me the principles needed to keep a model in the air and without putting the time into lengthy repairs such as I would have to on a balsa plane. Mind you, the ‘buddy box’ system helps here too.

 

One of the first things you learn when you are preparing for the Bronze test is that before flying the model you should conduct a check on all components on your plane. This is to ensure that it doesn’t make a premature landing or worse still, just continue sailing on out of radio contact. These checks include ensuring your transmitter - control box - doesn’t have any reversed controls meaning that ‘up’ could force the plane ‘down’ or ‘left’ might actually be going ‘right’ etc… unintentionally we had this simple rule embedded into us when we were at another flying club, where we were having a break from flying the models  when I looked up and what to my wondering eyes do I see? - an RC trainer, inverted mid loop, could only have been twenty feet above us at most. I watched it astonished at this event as it came down utterly flattening a model with the owner but two or three feet away sitting on his car boot watching the event unfold before him. His model was demolished by the trainer. Fortunately, no one was hurt in this sudden event except for I suspect the pride of the operator flying the model. But trust the ATC to mould this jump of adrenalin into another lesson on what not to do on an airfield. The operator told us that what had happened - the ailerons on the model where reversed so when he took off his attempt to keep the plane level in reality rolled the plane more to the right causing the incident described. Although unfortunate this did serve as a warning to us to always check our controls on the transmitter - control box - and I don’t think there is a person on that field that will be making that same mistake any time soon.

 

The Bronze test requires that you fly a pattern consisting of two circuits in either direction, two course corrections (two procedure turns) flying both ways and two circles dead centre in front of the operator. Each circle should take around twenty seconds to complete. I.e. not too large – not too small. This test will require you to keep a relatively constant speed varying your throttle for the changing wind direction. This was not too hard a test nor should it be if you have practised with the controls for long enough. That being said it does take varying lengths of time for people to become accustomed to the setup of the controls, the interesting bit is when in the test your instructor calls out ‘dead stick’ this is what you would normally shout if your planes engine stopped mid-flight and with no way to start it mid-air on most RC planes - excluding electric planes - indicating to other model flyers on the field that you are about to land and have priority over other models landing, to prevent you landing in a field whilst trying to evade a collision. But in this case, it is a test ensuring you can land the plane with no engine power and so you drop the throttle to idle, make use of your altitude, convert it to airspeed, line up with the airstrip and land.

 

Since I passed my Bronze, I have moved into what appears to be a niche branch of RC flying in Scotland, this being FPV flying. But it is really interesting, and changes the whole experience of RC flying - FPV standing for First Person View - allows you to see the plane flying from the view of a small camera mounted in or on the plane. EU law dictates that you can only use an FPV transmitter with 25mW power or under which on my set up with a 360 degree antenna and helical omnidirectional (anywhere within around 35 degree from where the antenna is pointed) would allow me to fly out at up to a max range of 1.7Km on a good day. But this is not allowed because UK law states you must be able to make visual contact with your RC model at all points for safety reasons, and you must have a spotter who must be able to take control of your aircraft if the FPV system faulters leaving you flying blind. Although currently limited to range of sight in the UK and EU, FPV is as I said before a truly recommendable experience indeed it might seem expensive to someone starting off but there are budget systems available. In total a budget system might cost £120 the more expensive around £500 but as I said well worth it, giving a new light on the hobby.

 

Corp. D. M. Macpherson – 470 (Falkirk) Squadron ATC.