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!

Vintage Model Aircraft

Bleriot during a fly-by

Bleriot during a fly-by

I enjoy designing and building RC models based on aircraft from the first decade of flight. Sig offers a superb kit of the Demoiselle and I offer original designs of the 1909 Blackburn Monoplane and the Fokker Spin.

Many of these early flyers share flight characteristics that are not common with today’s more advanced aircraft. Issues such as adverse yaw and high-drag characteristics are a common theme.
Aerodynamic knowledge has advanced considerably since those pioneering days of flight a century ago. Engineers and pilots simply know a lot more about aviation and aircraft design.  This is reflected in today’s aircraft that fly in a predictable and safe manner.

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

When designing and flying model airplanes based on these early layouts, oftentimes the inherent adverse flight characteristics of the full scale variant can creep into the model’s flight behavior. RC pilots need to have an understanding of these issues in order to successfully fly model aircraft from this era.

I added a page discussing the issues of flying and designing vintage aircraft. This is based on my experiences with the Sig Demoiselle kit, as well as my designs of the Blackburn Monoplane and Fokker Spin.

In short, there are numerous ways to make a successful model of these aircraft that fly in a safe and predictable manner. Best of luck with your efforts regarding these true Pioneers of Flight.

Brian’s Chickadee

I always enjoy hearing back from modelers who have built planes from plans offered on this website, and better yet from those who have experimented and made improvements.

Top view of Brian's Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Top view of Brian’s Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Brian earlier successfully built and blew a Blackburn Monoplane. He then tackled the Chickadee. Note how Brian used the Blackburn wings for the Chickadee, a smart move that saves building time.

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

The Chickadee was an experiment in design for me regarding wing and tail surfaces moments, areas and incidence settings. These parameters were adapted from the Sig Demoiselle kit. The Chickadee allowed for a quick built and the open layout of the wing mount allowed for easy adjustments on critical items such as the wing incidence.

My Chickadee prototype flew just fine. With the magic of TurboCAD I kept the rough wing area and incidence settings, easily grafting them onto the side view of my Blackburn plan. The result is a nice flying semi-scale model of an historic British aircraft.

Brian’s note follows:

Hi Gordon,

First, I want to tell you how enjoyable it has been to cruise lazily around the sky with my Blackburn on some calm summer evenings. A very realistic looking “days gone by” scenario.

I decided to take advantage of the Chickadee plans that came with the Blackburn but thought I would use the Blackburn wings instead of making a new, dedicated pair for the Chickadee. The Blackburn wings were a little heavier than the Chickadee plans called for of course, and I altered the wing mounting locations to suit the Blackburn wings. I did keep the wing location as shown on the Chickadee plans.

All went well. The weight before battery was 10.0 oz. However, the assembled fuse and wings was quite tail heavy and I had to add 3 oz of lead up front in a little “baggage compartment” under the nose and a 2s 800mah battery close behind the firewall to bring things in line.

I have not flown it yet. The all up weight is 15 oz., quite a bit more than the 9.5 stated on the plan. I know it will fly, just a bit faster than a lighter one. The motor is a Twisted Hobbies Crack Series 2203 – 1750kv with an 8 x 3.8 s.f. prop. I get 67 W @ 9.5A which works out to about 70W/lb. I won’t need all of that I’m sure.

I had another rare moment of genius as I wondered how I could carry it around without breaking it. I decided to modify the transport rig that I made for the Blackburn so that it could accommodate both planes (2 fuselages and one pair of wings). It works great.

I look forward to trying out the Chickadee soon. I’m sure I will love it. Thanks again, Gordon, for creating both of these aircraft.

Take care, Brian

Brian had an inspiration with his unique design of a lightweight foam carrying case.

We all know that the larger, lightweight electric models can be a challenge to transport with any amount of wind present. Brian took advantage of a common wing set for his build of the Chickadee and Blackburn, plus the fact that the wing panels are removable due to the fixed metal friction-fit mounting tubes. Note that the carrying case has the Blackburn fuselage (lower one), both wing panels and the Chickadee fuselage all in one unit. Brilliant!

Brian, thanks once again for a great recap and pictures, as well as sharing an original and innovative model transport scheme. Best of luck with your Chickadee test flights!

Close up of Chickadee nose section

Close up of Chickadee nose section

 

Chickadee fuselage under construction

Chickadee fuselage under construction

 

Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes

Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes

 

Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case

Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case

 

Huge Indoor A-10

Technology has truly revolutionized radio control model airplane flight. Indoor electric flight has been a specific beneficiary of these incredibly rapid advances.

A-10 Warthog in flight

A-10 Warthog in flight

As recently as ten years ago it was a remarkable accomplishment to simply fly a model airplane inside a local gym. Batteries and radio control hardware were heavy and the models generally underpowered.

All this changed rapidly with the introduction of micro RC gear and ready-made affordable foam model planes such as those offered by ParkZone. Suddenly, modelers had well flying aircraft that opened up an entire world of indoor RC flight to everyone

Modelers took advantage of advanced technology with light-weight building materials, advanced lipo batteries, micro RC hardware and small electric ducted fans to create advanced and well flying model airplane designs.

AN-225 "Dream"

AN-225 “Dream”

Below are two examples of these pioneering aircraft. The first video demonstrates one of the largest indoor RC aircraft I have ever seen, an A-10 flown in Germany.

The A-10 is an ideal candidate for an electric ducted fan model. The straight wing offer plenty of lift at low airspeeds.  Twin rudders combined with ailerons allow for tight turns required for a constrained flying space.  The model has full-span flaps for added indoor slow flight capability.  This particular variant even has retractable landing gear.  This plane is simply an incredible modeling and engineering accomplishment.

The second example is a smaller model of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream or Inspiration). The AN-225 is a strategic airlifter built in the Soviet Union in the 1980s to transport the Buran space shuttle aircraft.  Only one AN-225 was ever built.  It was powered by six jet turbofan engines, and the AN-225 is the longest and heaviest airplane ever constructed.
The indoor AN-225 is another remarkable example of today’s RC pilots pushing the limits of model aircraft design and performance. It is hard to imagine what future types of advanced model aircraft will show up on the flight line.

 

Electric Indoor A-10 from Germany

 

Electric powered AN-225 indoor model airplane