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From the title, you must be asking yourself what exactly is a slope junkie. You will have your answer by the end of this story.
It all started at about 5am. We were going FLYING! I didn’t sleep much the night before because of the usual pre-trip excitement, but it didn’t matter much now, it was time to load up the truck. I met my flying buddy Chris at his house which about 100 yards from my place (it’s awesome having a fellow R/C nut living that close to you) and we started loading up his Toyota truck. I was followed by Max, Bruce, and another local pilot. We filled the back of the truck and headed out. The destination was about an hour away, near Tullahoma, TN at Normandy Dam. We were cramped with 5 guys in the truck, but the conversation was fun with wise cracks rolling and talk of who will or won’t crash during the day. I couldn’t wait to fly.
For those of who don’t know me, you should know that I started in this hobby flying gliders. I lived in the mountains of NC and we had some amazing places to fly. I flew gliders for 3 years before I touched a powered plane. Flying sailplanes is to this day, my favorite thing to do in this hobby. I can’t really explain it, but there is just nothing like being up on a mountain with picture perfect panorama views, the wind in your face, and a silent flying machine cutting through the air. If you’ve never tried it, you owe it to yourself to get to a slope sight and check it out. It will change your R/C life.
Anyway, when we arrived the sun was up and the wind was blowing. It was a little chilly, but we didn’t care one bit. We immediately raced to get our planes together and see who would be first in the air. I don’t remember who won, but we were all up pretty quickly. We had an arsenal of aircraft to play with. EPP foamies, composite (or crunchies) ships, flying wings, aerobats, we had it all. The air was pretty good to us providing good lift and later in the day, we had some great thermals blow through to gain some serious altitude. I brought out my favorite Hobby Lobby sailplanes, the Samurai, and attached a FlyCamOne HD to it for some video. I’ll share the video at the end of this story, but we got some great footage.
We had many people stop by the side of the road to see what was going on here. We would all showboat a little bit doing low level aerobatics and pushing the limits. Everybody loves an audience. I heard the usual “how high can it go?” type questions and we were happy to talk to interested folks about our fine sport. As the day flew past (pun intended) we began winding down with only a few noteworthy crashes and plenty of stall turns and aerobatics to remember. We starting packing back up and heading for home. Now here is where the “junkie” part comes into play. Instead of just heading home and grabbing some dinner, Max pipes up and says “hey, I was looking at Google Earth and I think a found a new slope we can try just down the road.” Next thing you know, we were winding up one of the small mountain ranges off 24E towards Chattanooga.
We came to a plot of land that was for sale with an awesome view and joked about how we should buy the lot and turn it into a dedicated slope site. It was tight though, trees all around, not much space to make a landing. Taking off is the easy part, but Chris was like “I’ll just stall and spin it straight down.” I had to see that, so Chris got his plane together and became our new slope test pilot. If the lift wasn’t there, it was going to be nearly impossible to retrieve the plane. Luckily, right after launch, the tail went up like a rocket and we knew we had a cool spot. Everyone else grabbed a glider and joined him. Max, used his crunchy composite glider and we all wondered how he was going to get that one down. Everyone else was using combat tested EPP planes that bounce. I took the Samurai up for some more video and had an interesting landing which you’ll see later. Chris came in first and did his stall, snap, spin to the ground. It worked great! It wasn’t so easy for me and the Samurai though with it being made of wood and carbon fiber. I had to approach downwind, fly straight at myself, and then whip it 180 degrees and try to land. After two or three attempts, I got it, but the wing hit some bushes and spun it around with no damage. I was safe! Max on the other hand with his big heavy crunchy plane tried coming in from behind with full crow mix to keep it slow. He got it down, but one of his wings caught on some bushes and you’ll have to watch the video to see how that one ended.
So by now, you should understand why we call ourselves “Slope Junkies.” We’re insane for flying gliders on hills using crazy wind energy generated by the sun to soar aloft for hours on end. It was an amazing day of flying, friends, and fun. The only question left to ask is, when can we do it again!?
Member of S.A. (Slopers Anonymous)
Enjoy the video.
This article is more about drop kicking a specific helicopter, the Durable Micro Heli . You wouldn’t want to drop to kick a .90 size glow engine heli unless you wanted a trip to the hospital. With that in mind and borrowing from one of my favorite TV shows, Myth Busters, let me say this, do not attempt this at home, I’m what you call an “expert”.
I know there is a burning question in your mind after reading that first paragraph. Why on earth would he want to drop kick a helicopter? Well the answer is pretty simple. It’s called the Durable Micro Heli, and I wanted to see if it could live up to its name. Of course I was skeptical, when I got into flying electric powered helicopters the Ikarus Piccolo was THE helicopter to have. It was fantastic, we could actually fly indoors. The downside though, was that if you even thought about running into a wall or ceiling fan, or thick air, something was going to break. Calling a helicopter durable is like calling Dolly Parton slim…
So that leads me back to drop kicking this helicopter and the fundamentals of doing so. The first thing you want to do before participating in any physical activity like drop kicking is stretch. Limber up those arms, legs, and torso. Cardio is key, you don’t want to look like an idiot and cramp up after you’ve just drop kicked a helicopter right? Ok, now that you’re good and warmed up, you’ll want to visualize the kick in your head. Think about the rotors spinning and in slow motion, imagine yourself flying through the air Chuck Norris style, leg extended, and knocking that heli right out of the air. In real life it will be nothing like that, so now you know what not to expect.
On to the real deal. For my drop kick, I held the heli by the tail, made my best soccer pose, released and kicked it sky high. I expected parts to go flying everywhere, but it landed in one piece. I could not believe my eyes, if that would have been a Piccolo, there wouldn’t have been a piece left the size of a dime. I was truly stunned. This thing really is durable, and not only that, but it was able to fly around afterward like nothing happened.
Now, do I recommend that you actually go out and drop kick this helicopter? Absolutely not. Don’t blame me if you do and break something, we didn’t say indestructible, just durable. Will drop kicking this helicopter and still flying it put a huge smile on your face. You bet it will. Alright, it’s time for me to stretch some more. Go fly something, have some fun and remember, cardio is key.
I recently went to fly a couple planes at a new field I had heard about. I arrived at what appeared to be a large hangar with a gravel runway and an “Official AMA Airfield” sign. I was the only one there so I enjoyed flying a couple batteries through my Extra 300. As I was packing up to leave a man arrived and began opening the hangar doors. To my amazement there were 2 tow planes and about 6 free flight gliders, all of which appeared to be fully operational. I went to help open the hangar doors and the man offered me a ride in the ASK-21 if I would help him and the instructor for the day. I gladly accepted his offer and after a few hours of moving planes around I got to go up in the ASK-21.
We got a tow to about 2000 feet and headed straight for the nearest thermal. It was easy to tell when we hit it because the plane would quickly jump in elevation, also you can watch the altimeter as it shows you how many feet per minute you are rising. At one point we were able to maintain a 600 feet per minute ascent! After telling me the basic controls the instructor let me fly the plane around for about 10 minutes. I was able to fly into different thermals and gain altitude on my own (or at least attempt to). Eventually the pilot took back the controls and asked if I was ready for a wingover, I said sure and he went into a mild dive then pulled back on the elevator with a slight mix of left aileron. The plane did a nice 4G wingover and I have to say it was a pretty intense amount of force! Next the pilot did what he calls a “Zoomie”, we hit about 110 knots flying low at about 500 feet over the private runway! Needless to say this was one of favorite flying experiences of all time! To see some of the R/C sailplanes and gliders that Hobby Lobby sales click here.
Surely you’ve seen them by now, Tricopters, Quad Rotors, Hexacopters, there has been an amazing increase in the amount of R/C multi-rotor aircraft this year. I believe the increase is due in part by the popularity of the Parrot A.R. Drone. The A.R. Drone is controlled by any iOS device and sends a real time video feed over wifi back to the device. It’s seriously cool, but I’m learning there is so much more these things can do.
GPS, way-point navigation, 3-axis gyros, on-board computers, what does it all mean? In short, it means these radio controlled aircraft are super stable, precise, and can be programmed to do nearly anything. Plot out some way-points on a map and your drone can take off, maintain a set altitude and fly to those points. Once you start doing some research, you’ll be amazed at what these drones are capable of. I’ve even seen some sensors that the drone can track and follow at a set distance. Imagine the military and law enforcement uses for that! Place the sensor under a suspects car and when they leave, the drone can track and video the whole thing. They can fly at speeds up to 70+ MPH, so no worries about loosing the bad guys.
That all sounds pretty great, but I’m thinking more selfishly. What can I do with a drone like this? Well for starters, FPV or First Person Video is a great new way to fly. Slap on your set of video goggles, and your now looking at the view from inside the drone. Take off, fly around and explore the world from the air without ever leaving the ground. Combine that with a pan/tilt stabilized camera mount and you can shoot some great HD video footage. I can totally see movie directors using these to get shots that their boom mounts just can’t reach and it’s a whole lot less expensive than renting a helicopter. For me, I would love to go to the airport with my powered paraglider and use the sensor. I would launch the drone and tell it to go to about 50ft and hold altitude, then take off in the paraglider. The drone would follow me filming all the while and maintain its pre-programmed distance. I’d have my very own chase cam in the air. What would you do with a drone? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment and let us know.
Check out this article to see what the FAA thinks about all this:
FAA looks into News Corps Daily Drone
This gallery contains 12 photos.
As the title says, this story is about the day I had a plane catch on fire. The manufacturer sent us the very first prototype, hand carved and all, before the final molds were made. The foam was obviously rough, … Continue reading
So to follow up on my Slash body mount video…I took the same camera using velcro stuck it to the roof of my body and angled the lens to catch just a little of the hood, then went drifting!
We have used the FlyCamOneHD camera on one of my on road carpet race cars and the car is set up to stiff so the camera is to shaky. But, if you loosen up the suspension it should work fine. Then you mess with the set up of the car so it could handle differently.
Any ideas on videos you want to see? Feel free to let me know.
Hobby Lobby Retail Store
So several years back Hobby Lobby introduced the world to the first twin thrust vectoring jet with the SU-34. It won several awards and kicked off a technology boost for bigger, better performance. About that time while I was at the Joe Nall event, I saw a couple of guys from France flying some turbine jets like a 3D plane, hovering and all. I was amazed and immediately wanted one. Since I didn’t have about 10 grand in my pocket right then, I dreamed about having that kind of performance from our electric ducted fan planes. Well, Sebastiano from SebArt shared that dream and he created the Mig-29′s that we just released on our webpage today. These things are light, powerful, and awesome! I was the first person in the US to build and fly one of the early production units to take and demo at the SEFF event. The first flight down there put a huge smile on my face as within 30 seconds of the launch, I put it down on the deck in a stable hover and pulled out vertically. Finally! we have an EDF jet with 3D performance. It has twin 70mm counter-rotating fans, which is just cool, and the ESC’s are right in the airflow of the ducting so they stay cool. Yeah it’s expensive for a foam jet, but I think it’s worth it. The electronics are quality, the design is stellar, and it performs as advertised. If you too always wanted a 3D EDF, then head on over to Hobby-Lobby and check out the SebArt Mig-29 today.
My experience with Planet park flyer radios began when I decided to jump into collective pitch helis. I picked up a Twister CPX as a training platform since it has a belt driven tail, programmable radio, and is available for $199.99 RTF, compared to twice that for an ARF that I was probably gonna crash into pieces anyway!
I kinda thought the first thing I would have to replace was the radio since I had not heard much about the English made Planet systems. I downloaded the PDF and dove into learning the radio and its functions. It turned out to be very easy to program and it actually offers several mixing options including flaps! It is kinda difficult to program pitch and throttle curves for helis since adjustments are made in percents. In order to get your curve correct, a little math is involved. You have to graph you desired line out on a two axis grid (vertical 0-100%, horizontal position 1-5) to find the percent at which you would set each adjustment to. I use a grid app on my phone to make things easy! That is really the only down side I have found to the radio. Stick movement feels great, you can use cheap rechargeable batteries from the grocery store and they last a month on one charge, and the range is actually very reasonable for a park flyer system.
Since the receivers are fairly inexpensive, I decided to try the system out on an airplane after having such a good experience with it on the CPX heli. The radio has model memory that remembers mixing and programming for four planes, and four helis. It does not however remember trim so you have to record trim data and keep it in your flight box, or just remember to start at neutral!
The first plane I used the system in was a Kyosho illusion park jet and it worked very well. I have since put planet receivers in all my park planes allowing me to have very little invested in park flying. I can also not worry about losing valuable equipment in those unstable little park jobs which takes the nerve factor way down when flying at “improvised” fields. I have yet to run into range issues which I know is a big concern for any airplane hobbyist. So if you are looking for a nice park radio for a very economical price, check out Planet’s T5 and T7 systems. The Twister CPX comes with a T7 system already installed!!