Zooming with the Zoomer

The Zoomerfree flight glider. Kids love them, adults love them, r/c pilots love them. As a free flight glider, it’s easy to throw and it glides a long ways. Any kid would love to chase after this thing. Check out Nickolas chucking one around in this video.

There’s more to it than just free flight though. People have been hacking them and adding in R/C gear to make them controlled. It all started with our eRC Micro Stik receiver board. It’s a super small and light receiver that has two servos built into it and also a brushed motor esc. The first generation R/C Zoomer was a pure controlled glider. We cut in an elevator and rudder and attached pushrods them from the servos. We would launch the Zoomer as hard as we could and were able to control it around and catch a few thermals. It was fun, but we wanted some propulsion. The next step was to add in the motor system from the Micro stik. You had to be creative and carve out foam for the power system and battery. Now we had a fully function r/c model and the airframes only cost $9.99!

The next step for me is to add in twin 40mm ducted fan units! I’ve started the project and hope to finish this winter. Can you image a twin ducted fan EDF Zoomer zipping around the sky? It will be crazy! I can’t wait. These are just some of crazy things we come up. What have you created lately. I’d love to see some of your hacked up planes. Go to our forum page here and post your mods.

Jason Cole


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Night Flying Fun!

One of the first things I remember our owner Mark Cleveland wanting to do when he first came on board was fly at night. He dubbed us the Midnight Flyers and even bought us really cool jackets with a Midnight Flyers logo on it. I’ve been night flying myself for many many years now. It all started with the SPAD Pizza Box airplane. I wrapped it in glow wire and you could easily see it and fly at night. I wasn’t going to let the sun tell me I couldn’t fly any longer. Fast forward a few years and I’m at my fist SEFF show for Hobby Lobby. David Payne was doing all the flying us back then and he put some glow wire on an Alfa Models Mig-15. It was the first electric EDF jet I’d seen flying at night. The cool thing about the Mig was that it could slide along its belly to take off and David was doing touch n’ goes at night. That got as big a reaction as any of the noon time demos!

Lighting has come a long way since those early years and we now have super bright LED Light Strips.  These things are priced well, come in many colors, are easy to install and INCREDIBLY BRIGHT.  You can put them on planes, helicopters, Multi Rotor Copters, or anything you like. I have a hard time finding anything better to light up my models.

The key to lighting your aircraft is color. You’ll want to use several colors and apply them so that you can maintain orientation in any attitude. You are, after all flying in the dark, so you’ll want to be able to see an outline of your plane or at least know where the front, back, and sides are. Use contrasting colors for left and right and front and back to help with that. Another tip is to never look away. That can be hard at a show with many night flying models in the air, but keep you eyes on your plane, lest you lose it. My favorite night flying object right now is my Quad Rotor copter. It just looks so cool in the air. It’s easy to see and fly and people love seeing this little UFO flying in the sky.

If you’d like to give it a shot, go ahead and get some LED Lights and apply them to your favorite airplane. Don’t let the sun tell you when to stop flying. Night flying is so much fun and the best part is, you can fly anytime , no matter what.


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Why I Fly…

Hey there! Have you ever asked yourself the question “why do I do this?” This question recently came up for me while I was helping some customers at our retail counter. I occasionally wander up there to clear my mind, or to see what new cool stuff they added to the store. I was talking with a family who had stopped by wanting to learn more about radio controlled airplanes. I guess they could see the excitement I had while talking to them because they said I must really enjoy doing this. I thought to myself, well, that’s why I do it. There is so much junk in the news, or stress from life, that I need something fun in my life, to not get bogged down in all the mess. You can almost think of it like therapy. After a long hard day at work, what better thing to do than to toss a model airplane in the air and fly around the sky with complete freedom. Your cares melt away, you smile, you’re having fun!

I can’t explain why I like to fly so much. It all started I suppose as a little kid. We lived on 40 acres and I remember having all sorts of flying toys. Foamy wal-mart gliders, boomerangs, and my favorite was a foam toy with 3 sides that you threw like a boomerang but would end up spinning like a top while floating down. I would chase after that thing for hours. I’m hooked on R/C for life, flying doesn’t get old or boring for me. There is always something new to try like multi rotor helicopters or any number of new airplanes. The sky really is the limit.

So what do you do for fun? It doesn’t have to be airplanes or helicopters. You can drive R/C trucks or boats or whatever you enjoy doing. One of our missions here at Hobby Lobby is to “Share the Fun.” I love that. If you’re not having much fun these days, give us a call at 866-512-1444 and we’ll help you get started. It really is fun, and that’s why I fly.

Jason Cole

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The Eweek That Was

I had a great time at the first annual Eweek at Triple tree.

I was fighting some aches and pains for the first couple days we were there, but after that, things were smooth sailing. I was camped out in my tent right next to the flight-line, and Jason was hanging between the main tent, and a tree with his hammock. It was nice to wake up and open the tent and see a beautiful dew covered flying field, and wonderful temperatures for the day to come.

Through out the day, Jason and I got a chance to meet a lot of new people, and see some familiar faces as well. Being the first year of this event, I was very impressed to hear we had almost 400 pilots registered. It s amazing how fast the electric community is growing with the quality of batteries, and brush-less motors now a days.

At the flight line we got a chance to fly most of our aircraft including the 1/4 WACO, MiG-29, Dago Red to name just a few. All heads turned when the Dago Red flew its 130mph passes. The video on our website doesn’t come close to giving it justice.

Jason and I both had our DIY quad copters lit up for night flying. We were testing out our line of eRC BL480s motors, and eRC 25amp ESCs with the quads, which worked flawlessly. Jason finally did his first loop with his quad. It just seemed unnatural, but very cool to say the least.

All in all This first time event was a great success for Triple Tree, and will continue to grow as the years come by.

-Neal Davis

Click here to see more photos.

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NashBro 2011 From the Air

Jason Cole takes his eRC Quad Copter and GoPro out to the Nashville ProBro event to capture some hardcore 3D flight footage. And he did!

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Slope Junkies

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!?

Jason Cole
Member of S.A. (Slopers Anonymous)

Enjoy the video.


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How to Drop Kick a Helicopter

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.

Jason Cole

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To Fly In a Glider

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.

-T.J. Moore

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The Drones are coming…

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

Jason Cole

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To catch a plane on fire!

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

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