OuterZone Free Plans

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

I added a page today on a website offering over 8,700 free plans for vintage model aircraft. The site is OuterZone.

A wide range of model aircraft plans, drawn from 1913 to the 1970 are available for download. Models include free flight, radio control and control line aircraft.

The site offers plans that you will have to enlarge to full size. But these are complete model aircraft construction plans, not simply three views.

Back in this era of model aviation Almost Ready to Fly models did not exist. Everyone had to either build their own aircraft or acquire them at a swap meet. There was a thriving business with numerous aircraft plans offered for sale. As modelers could construct their planes from kits, most modelers could build from a set of plans as well.

The neat thing about these plans is the opportunity to build a model not usually seen at the flying field. Plans offer an easy route to make the necessary modifications for electric flight, as well as a change in the size of the model from the original.

All in all, another great way to explore the hobby of radio control model flight!

 

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

New Yard Ace Page

I added a page on my build of a park flyer sized version of my Yard Ace design. Very pleased with the outcome, see details here.

Front view of the 24 inch wingspan version of the Yard Ace design

Front view of the 24 inch wingspan version of the Yard Ace design

The Yard Ace is an easy to build RC model plane that makes for a perfect first build from a set of plans. In this case I demonstrated just how easy it can be to make a smaller version of a model from a set of plans. Same goes for making a larger version, should you wish.

The neat thing about being able to “design as you build” smaller or larger variants of a model from a set of plans is the large universe of new radio control model designs that become available to you.

In a future project I will do just this. First, select a plan of a model designed and built many years ago. Then rebuilt with today’s electric power systems and control electronics. And finally take this “new” model for a flight!

I enjoy Almost and Ready to Fly model aircraft as much as my fellow modelers. Still, it is nice to be able to build something on your own, and have a distinctive aircraft at your club flight line. More to follow!

Park Flyer Yard Ace Test Flight

View of the Parkzone powered Yard Ace on first test flight

View of the Parkzone powered Yard Ace on first test flight

I had a very successful test flight of my smaller version of the Yard Ace last night!

The total weight of the airplane came in at 2.3 ounces, well below my maximum target weight of three ounces (upper weight limit for the Parkzone motor). I had to add a bit of weight to the nose to provide the proper center of gravity balance.

Park flyer sized Yard Ace prior to test flight

Park flyer sized Yard Ace prior to test flight

The plane had plenty of power and flew right out of my hand. Control throw was good, although I think I’ll add either a bit more rudder area or throw to the final version. Handling in the air was smooth ad positive just like the larger version. There was no problem keeping the plane within the confines of my smaller test flight area.

Next steps are to draw up a set of CAD plans for this smaller variant with correct wood sizes as well as modified fuselage and wing layout. As you recall, I used the regular plan to construct this version and adapted structure as needed for the smaller prototype. For example, I’ll lengthen the nose a bit to help reduce the need for nose weight to keep the model within center of gravity limits.

I’ll include this new plan with the regular Yard Ace plan. I also intend to offer a video showing step-by-step how to draw the Yard Ace plan, now that my new Mac offers the capability of screen recording.

Yard Ace Fuselage Construction

First side of the Yard Ace fuselage under construction.

First side of the Yard Ace fuselage under construction.  8″ ruler shows true size.

I am making good progress on a park flyer size variant of my Yard Ace design. All fuselage and wing structures are built and ready for covering.

As I discussed earlier it is fun to make a different size version of a previously flown model. Part of the process is incorporating design features as you do construction. In the case of the smaller Yard Ace I need to modify the sizes of the balsa wood used in the original version. The challenge is to ensure sufficient strength without adding too much weight.

One important change I had to make when constructing the fuselage is to increase the width slightly to accommodate the ParkZone electronics brick. This was discovered as I laid the electronics onto the fuselage plan top view.

I also had to consider adding a tray for the electronics as well as a custom balsa motor mount in the nose of the fuselage.

Both sides of the Yard Ace fuselage complete

Both sides of the Yard Ace fuselage complete

Adequate strength is important for these smaller models. I intend to use a lightweight iron-on plastic covering. These coverings are used by modelers everywhere, but they do shrink a lot and can induce warps should the structure be of insufficient strength. On the upside, a completed structure (wing, fuselage, etc.) can be much stronger once the covering is in place.

Yard Ace fuselage under construction over plans

Yard Ace fuselage under construction over plans

For the tail control surfaces I think that I will just cover one side to save a little weight and minimize inducing warps.

I know from experience that three ounces is about the upper model flight weight limit for the ParkZone prop and motor combination. A requirement for anyone constructing smaller models is the use of an accurate scale to actually weight the parts.

Yard Ace fuselage nearing completion

Yard Ace fuselage nearing completion

I purchased a digital scale on Amazon and it works great. Simply push a button and you get a numerical readout down to tenths of an ounce. If nothing else you can track the weight increase as you build and cover the various components.

Fokker Spin in flight

Fokker Spin in flight with spoke wheels

This attention to weight saved the day on my Fokker Spin model. For the initial test flights I had a pair of lightweight plastic wheels. The model flew well but the wheels looked horrible on this vintage flyer.

I had a perfect set of spoke wheels in my parts bin, but they certainly added weight. Luckily, the total of weight of the Spin with the new wheels was just a tad over three ounces. The model flew well, but the extra weight was certainly evident on model flight performance. The digital scale helped a lot with ensuring success with the heavier set of wheels.

 

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

Yard Ace Construction Begins

Yard Ace three channel RC plane front view

Original size Yard Ace three channel RC plane 

I have started construction on a smaller version of my Yard Ace model airplane design. This variant is sized to accommodate the ParkZone line of electric motor and an electronics brick that contains two linear servos, a receiver and and electronic speed control.

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

From experience I know that a final model weight of around three ounces works well for the ParkZone motor. As discussed in an earlier post, I enlarged a set of plans to a smaller size from the original Yard Ace to be a better fit for the ParkZone set up.

Fit check of paper wing rib template

Fit check of paper wing rib template

As you build a smaller variant of a model there is an aspect of “designing while you build”. The original wood sizes will no longer be accurate for the new model and must be adjusted accordingly. You will have to consider the need for a strong wing and fuselage structure yet at the same time working constantly to keep weight at a minimum.

Front view of completed Guillow Lancer

Guillow Lancer offers useful insights to wood size needed for smaller Yard Ace variant

In addition the use of lightweight iron-on plastic covering has shown to add a lot of overall strength to the covered structure.

As the target model weight will be under three ounces, the model does not require the robust structure typically used in a larger aircraft. Gaining experience building other examples of indoor models such as the Stevens Aero or Guillow line can give useful insights as to just what size of balsa wood is needed for a successful variant.

More to follow as i complete the wing and next tackle the fuselage!

Operational Experience Training Complete

B-777F on Anchorage, Alaska ramp

B-777F on Anchorage, Alaska ramp

I am very pleased to report that my Operational Experience (OE) training on the B-777F with Southern Air is complete. Instructors are very thorough with a total of three trips around the world and a wide range of approaches and departures at the various airports we operate from.

B-777F interior cargo hold

B-777F interior cargo hold

The B-777F of course flies well and I had a lot of good input from various fellow pilots on landing technique, approach details, etc.

As an aside I installed the X-Plane simulator on my computer. X-Plane is an incredibly powerful flight simulation program with a wide range of aircraft, to include the B-777. Do take a look at their site, the realism of the various flight displays is truly amazing.

B-777F throttle quadrant

B-777F throttle quadrant

I am now home for a few days and will head out for another trip next week. I am looking forward to starting construction of a smaller version of the Yard Ace using the ParkZone electronics and motor as with my other indoor radio control models.

In addition, now that I am done with initial training I can work to learn TurboCAD on my Macintosh and make a few more videos on preparing RC model aircraft plans.

B-777 Simulator Training Complete

I am happy to report that I successfully completed my B-777 training and check ride at the Boeing simulator center in Miami.

Inside view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

Cockpit view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

The check ride lasted 2.5 hours. As Southern Air First Officers have to serve as International Relief Officers during portions of Oceanic flight while the Captain rests, new First Officers took this check ride in the left seat with a Boeing instructor performing co-pilot duties in the right seat.

The simulator flight was challenging but went well. Very happy to be complete with that portion of training and have a new type rating added to my pilot certificate.

After the check we had two more simulator sessions. One on LOFT (Line Orientated Flight Training) covering Oceanic crossing procedures to include radio and datalink check in, position reporting, weather diversion, equal time points, etc.

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

The next simulator was on Category II and III landings. The B-777 has an autoland capability that, depending on FAA permissions, allows us to land in weather as poor as 300 feet visibility. As you can imagine there are detailed procedures on how to safely accomplish this demanding task.

I am home now for a few days with plenty to study for upcoming OE (Operational Experience) flights. OE is a normal part of any airline check out. OE procedures are detailed for each airline and allow a specially trained Captain to ensure all of the “real world” line flying knowledge is successfully passed on to incoming First Officers.

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

I will start my OE training on April 9th flying from Cincinnati to Bahrain, around a 14 hour flight. After Bahrain stops will include Hong Kong, Anchorage and Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see how things work out on the line.

Once I am complete with OE and have a more regular schedule I am looking forward to finally getting back to building and flying radio control model airplanes.

One event on my calendar is attending, for the first time, Joe Nall Week (in nearby South Carolina) 13-20 May at the world famous Triple Tree Aerodrome. Triple Tree is just a 2.5 hour drive from my house. So no matter what my flying schedule turns out to be I should be able to get away for a day to check out the flying at this world class event. More to follow!

Boeing 777 Simulator Training

B-777 training for Southern Air has been going well. Our entire class is busy.  The instructors here at the Boeing Training Center in Miami are top notch and are all subject matter experts.  Just a lot to learn in a relatively short time period.

Student study session

Student study session

We recently completed out Flight Training Device instructional periods. The FTD is basically several very large touch screen computers that have the entire overhead and center panel displays graphically depicted.  The flight, engine and control instruments act realistically.  While that are no real buttons on the screens, the various levers, covers, switches, etc. all move in the correct direction when touched on the screen.

In short, the FTD is a perfect training aid for learning check list flows and procedures, while not worrying about actually flying the aircraft. In the FTD, the computer automatically flies the “aircraft” at whatever speed, heading and altitude you set in the autopilot.  The entire purpose of the FTD is to train in these fundamental procedures without using the very costly full motion flight simulators.

Computer workstations for academic lessons

Computer workstations for academic lessons

As part of the FTD training we all prepared for the FAA oral examinations. Oral exams are between you and the examiner.  A weight and balance calculation is first accomplished.  The examiner then takes the next two hours and goes over every switch and control in the cockpit, asking questions and systems issues as needed.  In short, a very effective way to ensure we all get into the books and learn the various B-777 aircraft systems.  My oral was completed last Sunday afternoon (the training center runs 24/7).

We are just beginning the Full Flight Simulator phase of training. The YouTube video at hyperlink shows just what a takeoff looks like.  The FFSs are large devices on hydraulic legs that tilt in various directions to provide a sense of motion.  The interior of the simulator is a completely accurate reproduction of the B-777 cockpit.  The sim has a graphic display that shows the runway, visual landmarks and the airborne environment.  Any sort of weather can be dialed in by the instructor.  The results are 100% convincing.  You are immersed in the experience and truly are “flying” a Boeing 777 jetliner.

I completed FFS number 2 yesterday. The ride went well with a great sim partner and superb instructor.  More to follow as I prepare for the check ride on March 22nd!

Southern Air Training

Things remain on track for my departure this weekend for Southern Air B-777F training.

I’ll head up to Cincinnati airport and attend one week of indoctrination lessons. This is normal class room instruction for any new airline pilot. Subjects include various FAA regulations and particular airline operations.

Inflight shot of a Southern Air B-777F

Inflight shot of a Southern Air B-777F

After indoc will be computer based training on B-777F aircraft systems. After that I will head down to Miami and attend Boeing simulator training. Will be a busy few months ahead.

Since my last flight at Mesa Airlines on Dec 19th I was not able to do any radio control modeling to speak of. There is a ton of very useful B-777 study materials out there and I took advantage of this time between jobs to prepare as much as possible for Southern Air training.

Of note to me is the incredible advances with computer simulations. The results of today’s computer and flight simulation programs are truly stunning.

YouTube has a number of videos that show folks demonstrating various airline simulation programs. A good example is Nick’s B-777 sim video showing the incredible cockpit detail, typical systems start up and a hand flown flight around the his local airport.

Screen capture of a YouTube video of a B-777 computer flight simulator program

Screen capture of a YouTube video of a B-777 computer flight simulator program

A second source of computer simulation instruction is a very new website at Airline2Sim. This site offers “cadet instruction” for various airliners. In my case I purchased the B-777 course for $40. The narrated videos contain around 20 hours of instruction on everything from the aircraft walk around and pre-flight to all cockpit checks and flight performance.

The neatest thing about Airline2Sim is that the videos are narrated by a veteran United Airlines Captain with 12 years experience flying the B-777 around the world. The videos are the most detailed and useful aviation instruction I have received in 42 years of flying. If you have any interest at all in this aspect of flying, the course is well worth the price.

That’s it for now. Plans and TurboCAD training video is available while I am away. I will post as able regarding my Southern Air training. And of course, lots to look forward to with radio control flight once I am complete!

Southern Air B-777F

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

It has been a busy few months for me. My last flight as a CRJ-700 First Officer with Mesa Airlines occurred on December 19, 2016. I had a wonderful two years flying for Mesa, logging 1,190 hours in the CRJ. The Captains are a great group and I learned a lot flying in the busy northeast sections of the US. All in all a tremendous experience.

I applied for a job as a pilot with Atlas Air earlier this year. Atlas Air is a global cargo airline flying to a wide range of international destinations. I was called in to an interview in September and accepted for employment.

Southern Air B-777 taking off

Southern Air B-777 taking off

I’ll start B-777F (freighter) training with Southern Air, a new Atlas Air acquisition, on January 23, 2017. I could not be any happier with this turn of events. I am “hitting the B-777 books hard” in preparation for my upcoming classes and simulators.

In the interim, model airplane plans and TurboCAD training videos are still for sale on the website! The moment I get a break in the action, will report on my model building activities.

Until then, Season Greetings and Happy New Year to everyone!