1 pointAsk me in a week, Ben! Difficult to tell weight yet as the wings are still to be made. The fuselage seems light enough even with the three MG996 metal gear standard servos installed. I nipped over to Robs this morning to collect the usual nick-nacks needed ie control horns, engine mount, poppers for press fit inter-plane struts, ball links for aileron push rods and a nice second hand ali spinner. That has rubbed up very nicely. The model is a great traditional build with loads of stringers and a fair amount of block work to shape. Its very rewarding to see it all coming together so quickly. I have a good feeling about this model and I`m confident it will fly very nicely. Emma and I joked that this model is a "James model". As we know, he loves the vintage stuff. I took a shine to his Fly-Baby bi-plane some time back. I`ve not yet found a plan for one yet but would love to build one. I found a Balsa USA kit for $365 plus shipping, import VAT and extra delivery charges this end. Obviously this was impossible to justify, hence the building of this Bi-stormer at a rather less dramatic price. More on this build when I have some further progress made and images taken. Mike
1 pointI thought it might be of some interest to others to read about my very positive experience of working towards and taking my A-test with CAMFC. Some of my modelling background here then. Back in the 1970`s, I started my modelling journey with the encouragement of my Father. We had hooked up with several other local modellers through my Fathers links with the construction industry. Two of his business contacts were keen RC flyers. Father was an architect, Geoff Swafield was a quantity surveyor and Brian Kilner was a building company director. The three of them decided to set up a new flying club based on the open and accessible games field behind the Riddlesdown Secondary School. Father became founder Hon Sec, Geoff became Chairman and Brian was Treasurer. I assume they sought permission to fly from that field from the authorities. That was back in 1972 and I was about fourteen at the time. The field was large and flat and proved ideal for the purpose. New members were quickly accumulated and we forged strong links with the Epsom Club. Seemingly the favoured model flown was the Super 60 trainer which was often powered by an HP.61 and modified to have an aileron wing with little or no dihedral. Radio gear was frequently 27Mhz Skyleader Clubman in four or six channel format and servicing, radio and spare radio parts were easily sourced from Skyleader who occupied part of the control tower at Croydon Airport. Our local model shop was in South Croydon where the lovely Ted Setterfield operated Heset Model Supplies. The second local retailer were the Hooper brothers who had a high street shop in Caterham on the Hill. The Hoopers were heavily involved with the Caterham MFC and our James remembers them well. The tenure behind the Riddlesdown school didn`t last long. Inevitably noise issues killed use of the site. A move took us south to a field behind the then Noble Lowdes(?) Insurance company playing field between Hamsey Green and Warlingham. Essentially, the field was little more than a quarter of a mile further up the road towards Warlingham from the current CAMFC meeting venue at Trenham Drive. The field was closely bordered by trees which we hoped would control noise issues. Sadly not. About a year after taking occupation, we were on the move south again to a field immediately next door to the now Knights Garden Centre. Again noise got us, a court case ensued and was lost. Off we went again. This time to another enclosed field half a mile east of "The Bull" on Chelsham Green. Within a few years the field was lost due to the local owner wishing to change its use. That was around 1979. Father and I dropped out of the modelling scene for a couple of years due to having taken on the mammoth task of building a house. I was soon to move away from the area to pursue a career in the PR, marine and aviation industries. Sadly, becoming married, having children, getting divorced and following other interests took me away from modelling for around forty four years. Father has kept his links with the Riddlesdown Club and I have indeed joined it once again. Now flying from a site below Edenbridge, the site is some sixteen miles distant from my current home at Warlingham. That journey doesn`t sound far but for me, it is a fair hike in a car which I don`t enjoy due to having a collapsed and herniated lower lumbar and raging sciatica down my right leg. Pain levels become uncomfortable and that trip to the site and back is not nice. It suits me better to be a CAMFC member which is just ten minute journey. My thanks go to Rob Newman and our wonderful Emma for roping me into CAMFC in April 2018. Problems with my ailing Father meant I didn`t do much flying in 2018. I built a 47" Mini Super with which I infrequently staggered around the Fickleshole skies re-learning basic flying techniques from forty four years ago. It has been a steep learning curve. Whilst the flying came back easily, I had to get my teeth into electric power and the advancements of 2.4Ghz radio technology. I soon learned that the hobby was far more regulated than it was forty years ago and the emphasis was on safety and the latest Dft/CAA requirements. It quickly became obvious that gaining an A-test was a vital part of modern day model flying requirements both from the legislative aspects and to ensure maximum safety at flying sites. If I wanted to progress the hobby, then I had work to do. Having satisfied the Club Committee that I could fly to BMFA and local Club rules, the A-test learning curve began in April this year and in May I piled the flights on to gain the experience necessary. In addition I boned up on the 23 BMFA oral questions together with our local club rules and also studied the BMFA handbook and the CAP658 CAA publication. As much time and effort went into that as attempting to learn what was required for the practical A-test flying examination. As far as the oral questions were concerned, committing them to memory really wasn`t difficult for me but one did have to pick out the operative information contained therein. To achieve this I read the questions on a three times daily basis for about ten days before the test, but most importantly, wrote it all out by hand on four sheets of A4 paper. This learning technique was taught to me at a CAA licensed training "agency" ie Brunel Technical College in Bristol between 1993 and 1996 where I studied for Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers certification under Section A8-20 of the Air Navigation Order. (As an aside, the nick name of the didactic Head of School was "Ponchas the Pilot"!) Manually writing out all those questions by hand helps the brain absorb the material into the "Ownership and Possession" part of ones brain. Once you mentally take ownership of the material, then it is more likely to hit and stick to the little grey cells. Writing things out on paper by hand helps focus the mind and provides you with a regular "refresh" by quizzing yourself when coming up to examination time. The human brain is fully capable of achieving a good degree of retention provided you are interested in the subject and are capable of holding and compartmentalizing information. Carried out in a relaxed fashion, learning need not be difficult and it can be quite surprising what you have retained even years after you did a cramming session. At Aero School, I soon found myself developing a sharpened mind which seemed to open up and become more absorbent the more I studied. So with the A-test oral material, I found I enjoyed learning and that gave me the confidence when it came to oral examination. It pleased me greatly to answer the questions from Trevor and only on a couple of occasions did I have to dredge deeper through my mental filing system to come up with an answer. I always regard my own mind as infinitely expandable but operating in a slightly clunky fashion similar to lap top running Windows XP......it gets there eventually but that is sufficient for the purpose! As far as the A-test flights were concerned, I was operating at a level of less than full confidence. On the Sunday before the test, I was confident of a pass under coming test conditions on the Tuesday. I`d flown reasonably well in front of around twenty club members that afternoon and managed three consecutive dead stick landings on the pitch. I felt good and happy and was clearly primed and ready for the test. Next day (Monday) the wind had dropped to nothing and any that there was came from the North West rather than from the East. I knew that landings would be faster than on Sunday and that I`d have to work a bit harder to set the model up for the finals approaches between the two trees at the Biggin Hill end of the landing patch. I managed a couple of good flights but on my third landing l lost concentration for a moment and caught the model on the lower bough on the right side of the huge model eating oak tree! The Ultra Stick lodged in the tree for a couple of seconds before dropping flat to the ground. The damage to the tail, a wing tip, a wing leading edge and a displaced wing/fuselage mount was enough to cause me nine hours of frantic repairs and a consequential loss of built up confidence. Next day, I flew a test flight to confirm the model was good again but I certainly had the jitters. I could have cried off taking the test but I decided to continue regardless. (Get back on the horse that threw you attitude.) I`m a pretty emotionless person and refused to let the tree incident get a strangle hold on me. Never the less, my flying no doubt showed signs of nervousness. Trevor was the examiner and was typically he was his usual encouraging self and showed sympathy for my dose of jitters. I was chuffed to bits to hear I had passed the test and on the way home bought a chilled bottle of Pinot to enjoy in a deck chair on the patio. In the afternoon, I fell asleep, rather exhausted but very happy..... Saturday saw me attend the Sevenoaks fly in/barbecue. I flew three flights and began to feel the confidence return. It became obvious that the more elapsed time and the more flying I put in between the tree smash and my later flights, the sooner I would begin to forget about the incident. I know that almost everyone finds that oak tree at some time so the best thing to do is just put it down to experience and laugh it off. These things happen. The A-test examination occurred fairly quickly for me. I had the advantage of learning to fly models when still a teenager. Even forty years later, the skills had stayed with me and just needed polishing up again. I suppose the run up to the test took me about six weeks and in the final week I attempted to fly almost every day dependent on suitable weather conditions. At all times I was conscious that the Club had given me the total responsibility of my own actions which included adherence to CAP658, the content of the BMFA guidelines, BMFA questions and also those local rules of our Club. Trevor Searle who kindly nurtured my journey towards the test was consulted when ever I required advice and I listened intently to his advice if I was seen to have strayed off the track. I`m immensely grateful for his quiet, careful and watchful tutelage and his regular appraisal of my progress. As a pupil it is important that one listens to ones mentor and then takes the steps necessary to advance to the next stage or correct errors in procedure if they become evident. Trevors` unflappable temperament instills instant confidence and I can`t thank him enough for his time and efforts on my behalf. As I was a returning flyer after a 44 year break, I surmised that my reappearance on the modelling scene would probably be at a low intermediate level. That recognized, I began to look for a suitable air-frame for the A-test training regime. Knowing that I would need a tough model and one that I could easily repair myself, I discounted most of the ARTF/PNP foamy offerings. They can look a dreadful mess after multiple repairs and in any case, I really don`t seem able to bond with a model that I have not built myself. I was looking for a laser cut ply and balsa model that was capable of absorbing a huge amount of punishment on the lead up to taking the test. In my internet search, the Hanger 9 Ultra Stick 10cc quickly gained my interest. Whilst the H9 kit is ARTF, there was enough work needed from myself to enable me to bond with the model and make it "mine". Now having six of these models, some of which are scratch built copies, I can usually build an H9 kit example in abut nine hours. That the US was a product off the design board of Ali Machinchy gave the model some serious credentials. Sales videos confirmed that the model could be used as a benign advanced trainer but could also operate as something akin to a flying witch on a broomstick. There was no opposition or competition really. At £207 delivered from Als Hobbies (Ali Macs` fathers model shop in Milton Keynes) all that was needed to complete the kit to flying condition was the power system, radio receiver, suitable Lipos, an ESC and six standard servos. In my case, I asked George Worley at 4-max to spec and supply the power system. George sent me a 70a ESC, a 5065-420Kv motor, a 3700mAh lipo, a 14x8 prop (15x8 found to be better) and a motor program card. That package came out at around £270 so it wasn`t particularly cheap. Savings could be made by buying cheaper gear or going the i/c route with a .60 size or larger two stroke glow motor. Would the Ultra Stick be suitable for a raw ab initio student pilot? Perhaps not.....a new flyer really needs a couple of cheap and cheerful PNP models on which to cut his flying teeth. I`d say for a beginner, he really needs a relatively valueless model that can be bashed and smashed without fear of having to find over £200 each time the model gets hit hard enough to make it a bin bag job. Training thrills and spills can and do happen! There are plenty of cheap trainer models around and the possible the demise of a cheapy shouldn`t cause too many tears before bedtime. My suggestion for a newbie pilot would be to take advice from his tutor in respect of selecting a low value tool to fly until basic flying skills are attained. Once that is achieved, moving onto a more expensive model such as the Ultra Stick could then become a sensible progression. A newcomer to the hobby is almost certainly best taught using a buddy box lead and two similar linked transmitters. Once a reasonable standard of proficiency has been reached, then I believe it is essential that the the newbie flyer gains flying time off the buddy box system. It is one thing flying with a tutor having master control with one transmitter and the novice being on the end of the buddy lead with the slave transmitter. It is quite another thing flying off the buddy box system as one progresses to flying solo. As a newbie progresses to flying solo, he should also have studied and taken on board the contents of CAP658, the BMFA guidelines and questions and the local club rules. At our Croydon Club progressing to a level of basic proficiency leading to the A-test allows the novice flyer to fly off the buddy box system as part of the learning curve once reasonable proficiency has been reached. At other Clubs, the regime is not so helpful and one is tied into the buddy box system until the day of the test. I don`t think that is particularly helpful as it could come as something of a shock to suddenly find oneself off the buddy box in one swift moment. I think our Croydon Club operates an excellent policy of allowing you to fly solo and off the buddy lead before you take the A-test and I`ve been very grateful for that. It has meant that I could visit the Fickleshole site alone and get some true solo experience and practice achieved before submitting to examination under test conditions. My next target is obviously the B-test. Subject to test flights and confirmation that the model is suitable, my plan is to use my low wing version (conversion) of the H9 Ultra Stick. This is simply a standard 60" Ultra Stick modified by turning the fuselage upside down, correcting side thrust, adding a couple of inches of dihedral and re-locating the landing gear. That is for the future after progressing flying skills to the test standard. So thanks again to Trevor for his time and assistance. The picture below shows us together immediately after my A-test and was sent to me by Ivan Smith. The other image is of my Ultra Stick low wing conversion which might make a good model for B-test flying. Mike K
1 pointAn update on flying my No 1 Ultra Stick. This is an original built in June last year which first flew in the hands of Steve Fysh last November at the Riddlesdown MFC site below Edenbridge. The model was proclaimed as all good with pleasant handling, nice landing characteristics but performance wise was not that quick on the 6 cell, 420Kv and 14x8 prop. This model and several others built since November languished in my hanger awaiting the onset of nicer weather. The model flew again in mid April 2019 at Riddlesdown with me being passed the transmitter on that second flight. After a 44 year break from the hobby, I found no control difficulty but was obviously a tad rusty with technique. That didn`t stop me making several good flights with take offs and landings not causing any real issues other than learning the finals landing positioning. I was quickly doing "touch and goes" and received a dedicated two training flights off the buddy box to fine up on technique and to start to prepare me for the A-test. A prop change at that time to a 15x8 proved beneficial to performance and lead sheet was added as nose ballast when using a lighter 1.2Lb 3700 Lipo. This shifted nose weight forward and alleviated a tail down flying attitude. When using a 4500 lipo weighing 1.5Lb, additional nose ballast was not required. If I were to offer further opinion on this, I`d say it might be prudent to move internal fuselage mounted rudder and elevators forward as far as possible towards the CofG position with the relatively light 5065-420Kv or 360Kv electric motor set up. Installing a large lipo in the nose makes reasonable sense but space is somewhat cramped with a 4500 unit. As regards suitability for an A-test, No1 Ultra Stick fitted the task to perfection. I worked solidly for two weeks attempting to fly every day at Fickles hole. Dear Trevor made a benign and very encouraging tutor, initially flying the Stick to get the feel for it, then passing control over to me using a second compatible Futaba transmitter with buddy box lead. I requested this action as the Fickeshole flying site is about one sixth of the size of that found at the Riddlesdown field down below Edenbridge at Mark Beech. I had the jitters about initially flying the Stick myself as it was somewhat larger than the 47" Mini Super I cut my teeth on when flying from Fickleshole in late 2018. The first flight under Trevors` experienced guidance went well, indeed I even managed a passable landing. Suitably reassured, I then did a second flight by buddy box with Trevor getting finger ache by having to permanently hold the master Tx transfer switch up for so long. The next flight had me doing take-offs, "touch and goes" and several more landings. Trevor said I was good to go solo, so off I went again with confidence and technique again improving by the moment. Then followed the two weeks of concerted effort to learn the A-test schedule and bone up on the 32 questions on the BMFA syllabus and fully drumming in the CAMFC local rules found in the Club joining pack. To memorize the BMFA questions, I hand copied onto four sheets of A4 paper both the questions and the answers. In this way it forced the contents into my mind and I took "possession and ownership" of the content. This methodology was learned when I studied at Brunel College in Bristol twenty six years ago for a Civil Aviation Authority Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers qualification. (LAME) The method worked well enough for me all those years back so I saw no reason why it should not work again. Repeated scanning of those question and our local Club rules helped greatly when on test day, Trevor quizzed me for answers. So what makes the Ultra Stick such a good candidate for A and possibly B-test use? Firstly the model is exceptionally resistant to damage. It shrugs off heavy landings, has a wide flight envelope encompassing the ability to fly very slowly especially with just a little flap deployed. It is also aerobatic, will fly rolling circles and 3D in the right hands. It is apparently capable of flying with a two stoke .46 up to and including a Saito R3 19cc petrol radial! I`ve only had one mishap due to a momentary loss of concentration when attempting a landing in flat calm conditions from the Biggin Hill end of the site. Frustratingly, the large oak tree in the corner marched out and grabbed the model! The Stick lodged in a bough for a couple of seconds before dropping horizontally twenty feet to the ground. Damage was confined to a slightly damaged starboard leading edge, a crumpled wing tip, the tail-plane knocked off, the wing/fuselage mount torn out and several minor dings. Nine hours of frantic repair work had the model ready again in time to take the A-test the next day. I can`t admit anything else other than to say I suffered a confidence drop following the tree incident. I flew a check flight with the Stick first thing on the Tuesday morning. The jitters had returned but the Ultra Stick remained docile and forgiving of my somewhat shaky flying during the test. Undoubtedly, the most difficult task to perform during the A-test is the dead stick landing. I`d practiced this task many times during my run up to test day and out of the fifteen or so dead stick attempts done during practice, only three of them resulted in my landing short in the rough. At least that gave me some experience of dead stick landings and I`m glad I put the effort into attempting to get that aspect of the test well ingrained. The Ultra Stick took a severe pounding during those attempts at forced landings but apart from sustaining a slightly bent rear motor cruciform mount, it came through unscathed. Had I used an old Super Sixty for similar training, I`m sure it would have gone home as a nylon covered pile of matchwood. It simply wouldn`t have taken the punishment. On the day of the test and the dead stick demonstration, I hit the pitch nicely at about a quarter of the way along the strip and finished the roll out without running into the high field crop. The Ultra Stick looks after you in the air and tolerates speedy arrivals with aplomb. I have two people to thank for helping me obtain the A-test. My sincere thanks go to Trevor Searle for his tolerance, patience and time input during the past couple of months. Trevor is totally unflappable and is a master at gauging pupil aptitude and instilling enthusiasm and quiet correction where necessary. I made mistakes along the A-test journey but Trevor helped with timely and effective correction. So a very big thanks are extended to him. I`m deeply grateful. At a distance in Illanois, I have also voiced my thanks to Ali Machinsky and Hanger 9 for producing such a cost effective, robust and totally bullet proof model. My No 1 Stick has done me proud and I can only say that if you are looking for a docile model to complete an A-test, the the 60" Ultra Stick ticks all the boxes. It does what it says on the tin and the videos of Alis` prototypes demonstrate model capability. Cheers, guys. Thank you all too for your help and encouragement. The image below of Trevor and I together following the test was kindly sent to me by Ivan Smith. Mike
1 pointSo following on from the BBC's terribly irresponsible reporting regarding 1 Air Lingus pilot and an "unconfirmed sighting of an object" outside of the Gatwick Exclusion Zone, here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-48086013 I decided that enough is enough and wrote to the BBC to ask 2 questions: Q1. Who wrote and titled the article, or at the very least was responsible for it being published? Q2. What facts do you have to prove the 1 pilot had seen a drone? Well, in true BS fashion, the reply I got from the BBC South East edior today was this: Basically he just wrote back repeating what the article had said and avoided my question completely! So I replied back to him reminding him that I knew what the article states, and that he had completely ignored my 2 questions, and could he please answer the questions. Please do feel free to let Mr Gibbs (https://twitter.com/leegibbs_) know if you are dissatisfied with the reporting of Gatwick events as it seems to be his department that keeps inserting the words "Drone" into everything that moves anywhere in the South East! I will continue to keep on his case until he provides satisfactory evidence that backs up the BBC's use of the word "Drone" and failig that I'll be asking them to re-word there articles to stick to only what they can actually prove.
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