13-Apr-24 - 07:02 PM

Thermal Circle Text - Thermal Circle 08

Written by Hayden Daley - 8th September, 2007.
Welcome to this edition of the Soaring Circle, in this edition we will have a detailed look at what the begginer need's in the way of equipment as well as some other relevant information that will help the begginer get started in RC soaring. I myself began soaring in 1985 at the Doncasater Aeromodellers Club and was taught to fly by an instructor at the club. It took a while, but when I went solo, I flew the same model that I learnt to fly on for more than two years. This model was a simple Almost Ready to Fly, 2 channel, 2 meter sailplane called a Quiet Advancer and this model gave me great pleasure over that time period.

When you learn to fly a glider do not feel that you need to progress rapidly on to more complicated equipment. I feel that it is better for the begginer to get totally familiar with how models react under different wind and weather conditions and at different sites, I think a good grounding in RC flying and a fair amount of flight time on the one model will give you more success when you progress to more complicated models later on. The governing body of aero modelling in Australia, the M.A.A.A has a reward system that when a pilot reaches a certain standard and feels confident he/she can pass the test, will be tested, and if passes will be issued Bronze Wings as a reward for reaching the competency required in RC flight. The highest reward and yhe one that require's the most competency, is the Gold Wings standard. I feel that after reaching bronze wings stage that you then should consider upgrading your models and equipment. However if you enjoy flying the model you have, you may not need to build up a fleet of many different models.

There are plenty of model aircraft out there ranging from Almost Ready to Fly, or better known as ARF models, to kits with more uncompleted items that require more construction, more tools and more build time to complete. If you are under the age of fourteen and do not have a workshop, I believe you will have more success with an ARF, two channel, two meter model. The reason being is that model kits require more tools a lot more work and attention to detail. For quality and finish other special tools for finishing such as covering iron and heat gun are required. With an ARF model all this is done for you, your model will be covered, the finish will be good and with minimal work your model will be complete and ready for flight. If you are older and feel up to the task, building a model from a kit this can be highly rewarding and is a good skill to learn at the beggining of your flying career.

Some things to note when building from a kit. The building board must be flat for a nice straight good flying model. Take your time, and check alignment on everything before gluing. Do not feel embarassed to ask for some advice from the shop you purchased the model from if you are having some difficulties in construction. Also make sure everything is a perfect fit, and always follow the plans and instructions supplied with the kit right up until completion. Also always use the correct adhesives to attach all parts. Covering is the last task when finishing your model. Take your time here and again make sure everything is about the right size before you begin the task of attaching the covering to the completed airframe. Follow the insructions supplied with the covering material as closely as possible and you should get a nice result and have a well presented, good flying model.

For the best chance of learning to fly, it is critical that you join a club, and one that has model aircraft pilots that fly radio control gliders. Joining a club will give you insurance for accidents such as models hitting cars and people, as well as cover for injuries that occur at the flying field. It will also allow you more assistance with construction as you will be able to ask your fellow club members to aid in explaining how to complete the task with which you are having difficulty. However the best part of being a club member is the access to people that will teach you how to fly. The VARMS soaring club in Melbourne runs training days every two weeks that uses club constructed models and club owned radio equipment to train pilots to solo standard whilst they construct their model sailplane.

When you have completed construction of your sailplane please do not be tempted to fly the model by yourself. This will only lead to a lot of repair and other disasters Flying rc models is difficult and assistance will guarantee a lot less repair time and a lot more success.

A simple understanding of aviation theory will help when you begin to fly. Explanations of aviation theory can be found on the internet, or through books on the topic, the local library can help with this. Some of the topics that you need to understand are what occurs when an aircraft stalls, what is meant by the angle of attack and what is meant by the term wing loading. An understanding of these topics and other aviation theory will aid you in learning to fly model sailplanes.

When you begin flying RC, in my personal opinion all that is required for the begginer is a simple two channel radio with servo reversing and rechargeable batteries. These radios are well priced and if you feel that model aircraft flying is not for you, you have not outlayed a massive amount of money for a radio with functions that a two channel model aircraft does not require. If in the future you have learnt to fly, and have an understanding of the functions required for more complicated models, it is at this period, that it is time to start to consider purchasing a computer radio with the features needed for succesful flight of models with more functions and flight controls. There are a great deal of computer radios from many different manafactures on sale at Australian hobby shops, and when the time comes to purchase, take a close look at the functions and the features that the radio has, and the relevancy to the type of model flying that you wish to do.

One of the most important thing to do when you get a new radio is to get the radio certified. This entails taking your radio to an approved operator who will test your radio using a spectrum analyzer.This equipment tests the band width of your radio. If your radio reaches the required standard as pretty much every modern radio does, and will not interfere with other radios, a sticker showing channel that the radio was on when it was tested will be placed on your transmitter showing approval, and a bandwith sticker will also be placed showing the bandwidth which is normally 20Khz. The tester will also write the date that the radio was tested, and it is normal for most clubs to require radios be tested for bandwidth every two years. You will be unable to fly at a club field without having your radio control equipment certified as you may cause interference with radio's on adjacent channels and this is dangerous. Every club has a system of frequency control to prevent accidents caused by people switching on radios on the same channel. Frequency control is normally controlled with what is known as a "keyboard". You can purchase frequency keys at your local hobby store. The keyboard at the flying field has slots for every channel that are legal in Australia and when you place your frequency key in the key board you are now allowed to transmit on that channel. If you switch on your transmitter and your key is not in the keyboard then you are responsible for the replacement of the model which was "shot down" by your transmission. Consider the cost of this particular accident if the model happened to be a twin turbine model jet or similar type of large model.

Another important aspect of model soaring is to have the ability to launch the model. The best equipment for the beginner to own is a bungee. A bungee is constructed by using surgical rubber tubing attached to a length monofilament line. The line is quite a bit longer than the surgical rubber tubing and this equipment provides the ability to have a good launch especially on days that are a bit windier as the bungee can stretch giving a higher launch than on calmer days. You can also launch bigger models on a bungee by using a "double bungee", this entails using two pieces of surgical tubing side by side making the bungee a lot more powerful than just the one piece of rubber however is harder to stretch back. As you progress though you will eventually need a winch. Winches are complicated to build and require much tooling and equipment to complete. I recommend that you purchase a winch, however if you have the tools and engineering skills to build a winch, this will save a large amount on the purchase of this expensive piece of equipment.

Battery failure is one of the most common causes of crashes in model aircraft. When you first purchase a radio the first job is to "cycle" your batteries. This involves charging then flattening the transmitter and receiver batteries at least five times. This job is simpler with chargers like the Super Nova 250, which is a well priced computer operated changer that has an automatic function, you press down and the charger flattens then recharges the batteries, your job is to press down at the end of each charging period. The reason for cycling is that it improves the batteries ability to stay charged and to function at the best of their ability. There are a lot of chargers out there however the Super Nova 250 charger is an after market accessory. Your radio should come with a wall charger that you plug into a power point. The only problem that I have with using a wall charger is that you cannot be certain that your batteries are charged to there full capacity. Chargers like the Super Nova 250 are peak detection chargers, they charge until the battery reaches full capacity and shows whether your batteries are in good condition, counts the capacity of the battery pack, and will aid in the longevity of your model.They are well worth the added expense.

When you first join a club and arrive with a new model normally another member will check over the model for any defects, incorrectly mounted radio gear and other problems. You must understand that your first day that you wish to fly your newly constructed model that some modifications may be required to make the model fly succesfully. Some of these changes may be minor and fixed on the day allowing the model to fly, otherwise with more serious modification it may take longer for the first flight to occur. As a begginer please respect the member that completes this task, as the checking that occurs will mean that there is a great deal more of a chance that the first flight of your new model sailplane does not end in disaster. Also, whilst at the field, watch what is going on with the flying. This not only improves safety but you can learn a lot from watching other people fly there models and watching the mistakes and other things that occur as they fly.

Expect to take around six to eight sessions of good flying weather and about thirty flights to reach the solo standard, where you will be able to fly safely unassisted. Some people learn quicker than others but do not be disheartened if it takes longer. The major problem that most people have difficulty with is seeing the model well enough to know what is going on. Often a trip to the optometrist dramatically aids the person learning to fly, and fixes a lot of the difficulties that occur as the model gets higher, either in launch or when a thermal is encountered. I also reccomend the wearing of sunglasses as much as possible. We are looking upward when we fly and this is not good for the eyes, good eye protection is important, as it is protecting your eyes as much as possible for the future.

Slope soaring, which was thorougly explained in issue 70 of RCMN by Steven Green, is a good way for the begginer to get good flight times and learn quicker. Slope Soaring entails using a reasonably large hill and as the wind is deflected upwards by the hill, this provides "lift" for the model using this deflected wind current to keep the model airborne and often for long periods. If you can talk your instructor into a couple of slope soaring sessions at a good slope this will dramatically aid in the ability of learning to fly solo, and is a highly enjoyable way of flying model aircraft.

Finally, If for example you live in the country and do not have access to a club within reasonable travel distance, do not think that you will never learn to fly. If you are on your own property and well away from any possible danger to other people and obstructions for about $50.00 to $80.00 you can purchase a foam combat wing. These simple models require a two channel radio, a simple and cheap mixer to aid with the controls, and finally these models are made of EPP foam and will survive hundreds of crashes. So if own a large hill and have a reasonably windy day, keep throwing the model of until you get control and begin slope soaring. This technique has been proven by an associate,a policeman that lives in Camperdown, that has a fantastic slope soaring site and taught himself using this method. Within a few days he was flying successfully and still has that first model last time we met!

It is my wish to provide useful information to people interested in getting started in RC soaring. I have again thoroughly enjoyed writing the Soaring Circle and I can be contacted by email at this address soaring@newlitho.com.au . If you have any topics that you wish to be covered in the SoaringCircle then please email otherwise happy, safe and successful soaring Hayden Daley.

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