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Never OVER Estimate the Size of Your Flying Field

Never OVER Estimate the Size of Your Flying Field

With the smaller size of some of todays park flyers and micro flyers it is easy to think that your flying field is adequate. The truth is that if you are a small field modeler and you decide to go larger you need to find an appropriate flying field. Of course this should be an AMA sanctioned club field. I have an empty hay field beside the house that is about 2 acres square. I have tooled around it quite a few times with some small electric planes having wingspans of about 24″-36″. With that being said wouldn’t it make sense that any electric airplane that flew slowly would be just as suitable for that area? In my mind the answer was yes too. I had just finished a scratch building an electric powered glider and it was too late to make it to the field before dark. Man it just felt like it would sail so nicely when I was holding it admiring my work! Being excited to see what it had to offer I gave it a quick glide test across the backyard but it just floated too far. I decided that I needed a larger are for a real glide test. After picking it up, I was on the way to the garage/shop to put it away until I could make it out to the local flying field when I glanced over at the neighbors field. I had flown in it before and figured a glide test wouldn’t hurt so off I went. Once at the top corner that bordered my property I checked control throws once again and...
The safety of others ALWAYS comes first!

The safety of others ALWAYS comes first!

The larger size of some of todays popular aircraft demand extreme judgment in addition to piloting skills in order to fly them safely. The picture above is a promotion ad but I want to show the size of the airplane compared to a person. Add to this size difference the flying speed, even at a stall, and the weight of the airplane, and a person does not stand a chance in an encounter with one. I recently witnessed first hand poor judgment taking its toll at a fly-in. A gentleman with an IMAC size airplane was having some issues with his engine. I am uncertain as to why he decided to try and fly knowing that he had a good chance of losing power in flight but he did. I hoped that he was intending on a quick couple laps to test an adjustment and not the thought of something magically fixing it for him in the air. In either case after a few basic maneuvers (no idea why this was done) his large  aircraft lost power. The huge plane was about 30 feet in altitude just on the other side of the runway about center field. The pilot immediately banked hard and pointed the nose directly down at the runway building tremendous speed in the process. It was also very apparent that he did not apply any rudder to attempt to line up to the runway.  He was going to put his prized possession on the ground at the airfield at all cost with total disregard to those around him. He slammed the plane down a few feet from the rough grass separating...
NiCD Battery Care

NiCD Battery Care

Batteries are very easily overlooked and have been the culprit of many a mishap.   I was looking for some good common sense information about the care and handling of NiCD battery packs since I promised to cover this issue in my previous blog. In my efforts I came across this NASA NiCD battery care document and found it to be very interesting reading. It is full of the do and dont’s of storing cycling them. “Storage of NiCd Batteries Guideline No. 2 Flight batteries should be maintained in a discharged and shorted condition and stored at cold temperatures when not required for “critical” spacecraft testing. Optimal temperature is around 0 degrees C. NASA does it this way: Discharge at C/2 constant current rate to first cell at 1.0 Volts Drain each cell with a 1 ohm resistor to less than 0.03V Short each cell with a bar Place batteries in a sealed bag with dessicant (stops condensation) Store in cold temperature (about 0 deg C) To re-charge such a stored battery Guideline No. 7 A battery stored discharged and shorted for a period greater than 14 days should be activated with a “conditioning cycle” prior to placing it in use. The conditioning cycle (20 deg C) is defined as follows: Remove from cold and allow to come to room temperature Charge at C/20 for 40 hours +/- 4 hours (Deliberate over-charge) C/2 discharge until first cell reaches 1.0V Drain each cell with a 1 ohm resistor to less than 0.03V Short each cell with a bar for 4 hours C/10 charge for 16 hours +/- 1 hour Do steps...
Flying Safe Checklist

Flying Safe Checklist

Hello again, I would like to cover some of the checks that need to be made after an aircraft has sat through the winter months. It is also a good idea to do this before you pack your gear to go flying. I myself have learned most of these lessons the hard way throughout the years. I have lost control horns, broken hinges, failed battery packs, broken fuel tanks, and this is the very short list. The best way to be safe and also to ensure a fun day at the field is to use a checklist. When you pick up any piece of your aircraft first give it a good visual inspection. Look for defects in the covering or paint that may point to a structural problem underneath. Many a time one of the kids or family pet has knocked over a fuselage or wing by accident and just stood it back up without telling a sole. Be sure to always give things like your vertical and horizontal stab a good tug to see if they are secured correctly. Grab all control surfaces and give them a pull to check your hinges. This used to be quite an issue back when we would epoxy in nylon hinges. Todays hinges are much better but should still be checked every time we prepare to fly. Look at the control linkage and how it is attached to the control surfaces. You should give control horns a little flex to look for cracks. It is much better that it cracks in the shop than in the air. This check also will show if any mounting screws have...

District IV Safety Blog Introduction

Hello and welcome to the District IV safety blog! I would like to thank Jay Marsh for giving me the opportunity to cover safety and UAV education. I took quite a while to think of what the first post should be about and after a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that I should first introduce myself. I am Bradford Booth and reside in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. I have been the safety coordinator since being appointed so for about three years now. I have been an AMA member for a little over 30 years and am currently in the Central Carolina R/C Modelers club. My father raised me at the airplane field and started me at an early age. My first solo flight was on a Midwest Tri-squire at about 4 years old. I have been building from scratch and kits since the age of 10. Before I had a drivers license I was an accomplished pattern flyer and was dabbling in pylon racing. I am here for you the modeler first and foremost so I will welcome any input or questions that you may have. This blog is to help to educate beginners and remind us veterans of often overlooked safety issues. With the flying season finally off to a start there is so much to cover. I plan on spending some in depth time on getting flight ready after being in the hanger for the winter. Topics such as battery cycling, control linkage and hinge checks, range testing, etc… Perhaps the first line of safety is to be prepared just in case something was to happen. The best defense against accidents is...