- After a minimal amount of research, I rushed out and bought an Art-tech Diamond 1800 powered glider (from Arrow Models); I then realised I had both no idea WHERE to fly it, and, more importantly, HOW to fly it.
- A Google search for "rc flying clubs", led me to the 'British Model Flying Association' (BMFA) web-site, where I used their 'Club Finder', in order to locate the 'Beverley & District Model Aircraft Club' (BADMAC), and, as luck would have it, they were having a Social Day (with barbecue) the very next weekend.
- So, Wendy & I went along, to the BADMAC Flying Field, and after a pleasant day watching the planes fly & eating some excellent burgers, and quite a lot of "you shouldn't have bought that plane", and "why did you buy a Mode 2 Radio Transmitter, most of us are Mode 1", I was introduced to Pete Quibble; who did fly Mode 2; wasn't as horror struck about my choice of plane; and agreed to teach me to fly.
- I paid my BADMAC membership fees, which included BMFA membership (and insurance); and Pete set about the seemingly impossible task of teaching me to fly. For the first few lessons, Pete took off, and flew the plane up to a good height (i.e. "three mistakes high"), then passed the Radio Tx to me, and I wobbled about the sky a bit, until it was time for Pete to re-claim control and land.
- About four lessons in, things went horribly wrong, when I "tip-stalled", whilst flying too close to the ground for Pete to "snatch & grab" the Radio Tx; and I experienced my first walk to see, return with the bits, and attempt to put on a brave face, whilst more experienced club members assured me that it would all go back together.
- Two weeks later, with a bit of hot water (to straighten out the compressed foam), and quite a LOT of glue, I managed to put my Diamond 1800 back together again (the nose wasn't quite as pretty, or as straight as it was before); however, when I turned up for my next lesson, I had also bought another plane, i.e. a Bixler 2 (from HobbyKing).
- The Bixler 2 was easier to fly than the Diamond 1800, however, Pete and I alternated flying them, and soon I was able to both take off (i.e. hand-launch) and land both planes reasonably comfortably (the Diamond 1800 is, however, prone to 'coming in hot', so, I often had to do the 'walk of shame', to the far end of the runway, in order to retrieve it).
- I also bought myself the Phoenix R/C Flight Simulator for my computer; which allowed me to practice/hone my flying skills, in an environment where, when I inevitably crashed, the bits of the plane would 'magically' pop back together, and I could try again.
- Back in the real world, I "tip-stalled" the Diamond 1800 again, and this time I broke the fuselage beyond repair; but, not to worry, as a new fuselage was quite cheap to buy, the servos from the broken fuselage were easy to transfer, as was the motor (which miraculously still worked fine); so, within a week and a half, my Diamond 1800 was back in the air.
- Pete was becoming very happy with my progress, and started saying that I should get ready to take my BMFA - 'A Certificate'; however, neither of my planes had any landing gear, and being able to take off & land from a runway is a necessary part of this certification; so, I was persuaded to buy a second-hand 'WOT 4 foam-e'. The WOT 4, however, proved to be a bit 'twitchy' for me to fly, so we had to reduce the throws on all of the control surfaces before I was at all comfortable flying it.
- I concentrated on flying the WOT 4, and, after losing the propeller (note to self, check that all of the nuts and screws are tight BEFORE you fly), and replacing it, was soon able to take off & land with some degree of competence.
- And then I "tip-stalled" again; this time flying the WOT 4; breaking the propeller, motor shaft, engine cowl, and almost snapping the fuselage in two. Tim, another BADMAC member, just happened to have a 'spare' WOT 4 motor, which he kindly let me have; however, I had lost all confidence in my ability to fly the WOT 4 (which was doomed to spend the next few months NOT being fixed).
- I went back to flying the Diamond 1800 and Bixler 2; and bought a set of landing gear, for the Bixler 2, i.e. so that I could continue to practice runway take-offs and landings. To date, although a few of my landings have been somewhat hard, the Bixler 2 is the only one of my planes I haven't managed to crash & break.
- Things got busy at work, so, although I did manage to get a few flights in during these two months; I either found it hard to find any free time to fly, or, when/if I did have the time, the weather always seemed to be against me.
- And then I discovered Experimental Airlines; and got all excited about the prospect of building my own plane, from scratch, out of foam board; so, I rushed out to the nearest hobbycraft store, and bought myself a few sheets of A1 White Foam Board, and a Hot Glue Gun.;
- As weather got worse & worse, I watched a LOT of YouTube videos, and spent a lot of time in my 'hangar', slowly learning Ed's foam board taping, bending, gluing, etc. techniques; all of which have enabled me to build what Ed calls an 'Axon'; which is similar in design to a Bixler (i.e. with a pusher prop), but, is slightly larger, and no-where near as 'pretty'.
- Got in a few flights, with the Diamond 1800 & Bixler 2; I must be getting 'better' at this flying lark, as I didn't managed to crash either plane (famous last words?); however, I still haven't managed to 'maiden' my scratch-built, foam board Axon; as I want to wait until conditions are as near perfect as they can be.
- Finally got round to re-building my WOT 4, using the top of a milk carton as an engine cowl (as, for some reason, this spare part is very expensive?), and screwed up the courage to try to fly it. The take off was going well, but, then, as I went for full throttle, in an attempt to climb to a safe height, the plane slewed violently to the right; and after a few seconds (seemed like minutes) I was forced to 'land' in the ploughed field adjacent to the runway. I didn't initially think I had done much damage (in fact I was pretty pleased with my 'landing'), however, upon reaching the plane I found that I had snapped off the landing gear, and that my motor mount was VERY wobbly.
- The weather still isn't very conducive for flying, at least not for my current level of flying skill (I still haven't managed to screw up the courage to give my Axon its maiden flight); but, I have managed to get up to the BADMAC flying field a few times in the New Year (there haven't been many other hardy souls were there though), and have managed to cope, reasonably well, with the 'dreaded' southerly wind that seems prevalent at this time of year.
- Having initially built the wings for my Axon, following Ed's Armin Wing design, I am currently building another pair of wings (Yes - for the same plane!), based upon the Kline-Fogleman airfoil; i.e. with a KFM3 airfoil. At the same time, I am also experimenting with coloured packing tape, so these wings will be Yellow on top, and Red underneath.
- I have also re-built the WOT 4, again, and will give it one more try!