Free Flight 4 Fun
For the second time now I have had my ear tweaked by a certain Mr TB, the first time lead to me becoming Southern Area chairman for a while, this time I have been asked to write a few lines on free flight, where it will lead I have no idea. If you are into all sorts of free flight for fun then hopefully this feature will appeal to you.
Some while back I built a version of Eric Marsden's Vannus flying wing for a KP02, a great flier and very amusing the way it wandered all over the place first the left then to the right then a series of tight circles then off somewhere else again, you never knew what to expect. I had designed my own fuselage for it (no I can't leave anything well alone) based on a modern sailplane but the structure of my fuselage was a little unsound and I retired it hurt shall we say. When Rapiers came along I thought it an ideal candidate for a small profile Rapier powered version and named it Slinki (a free plan is available at http://www.jetex.org/models/plans/plans-air-rapier.html ) after the way it looked so snake like and slinky in the air. It proved to be a good flyer and I had managed to cure the wanderlust by making larger tip fins.
Presently I have been inspired by Steve Bage's redrawing of the Jetex Flying Wing for L2 Rapiers so I am trying to finish off some drawings for a larger built up version for a Rapier L2HP, watch this space.
While on the subject of Rapiers another project is to finish off are drawings of the Jetex Wren for Rapier L1, with luck there may be a production version out soon or is that reproduction? Another reason to watch this space.
Recently I have built a couple of Ebenezers, the Spitfire still needs sorting a bit to stop a strong turn to the right which I think is caused by the offset weight of the engine on one side but looks very promising. I shall add a little weight to the opposite wing tip and see if that does the job.
Another is the Sportenezer an Ebenezer version of the KK Sportster by Dave Ridgeway, there is a section on Mike Stuart's website about the KK Sportster http://www.ffscale.co.uk/sportster.htm so far I've only given it a few hand glides as I am waiting the next visit to Middle Wallop.
I finished both in Esaki tissue using Johnson's Klear and B&Q's 'quick dry varnish' both water based, A to keep the smell out of the house and B because I am not very good on wiffy stuff like dope, I haven't used any tissue for years and quite enjoyed it but for open structures I still prefer the strength and puncture resistance of Airspan with a thin coat of dope (out in the garden) to keep it taught.
A couple of years ago I built a KK Eaglet after seeing a some flying well at Old Warden,
I'm still in the process of getting the best out it - I haven't really been trying very hard as I am easily satisfied sometimes - and it has lead to the desire to built the KK Competitor and Contestor. My pals Peter Shelton and Robin Tuff have got the jump on me in that respect and already have Contestors flying. Let's see now can I build one in time for this August Bank Holiday at Middle Wallop. Time is tight, we shall see.
Down memory lane - or how did you start?
I think I was 9 when I decided to build a model, not just build a model but design it as well. Knowing nothing apart from the seeing a KK Minimoa and another glider (can't remember the name of that one) that dad had built and tried to fly them rather unsuccessfully a few years earlier, I persuaded mum to get me a sheet of ¼" balsa and proceeded to hack away. I can still see the model now, it was a chuck glider based upon a pre-war flying boat with gull wings, dihedral tailplane and twin elliptical fins, the design was arranged to exactly fit a 36" sheet (must try it again sometime) and the sections were laboriously sanded in. Not having any pocket money I borrowed a tube of dad's Rawplug (Durofix was it?) 'plastic wood' which was a mix of balsa cement and sawdust to glue and pin everything together, not very well as you might realise. Nine months later in the depths of winter I finally learnt to stick it together at all the right angles add the right amount of plasticene to the nose and I got a flight out of it. Talk about trimming it the hard way, I broke it at every attempt at flight, countless times, yes I was persistent. But what a flight it was, dead straight and flat for 20 or so yards with no sign of a stall across our snow covered garden, beautiful, a flight to treasure after all the months of doggedly trying. Not that I would have known what a stall was of course, but I was so ecstatic that I scooped up two handfuls of snow then whacked them together into a snowball and hurled it into the sky with all my might, the snowball flew almost as beautifully as the model a perfect high arc and down splat onto my model smashing it to pieces, I always did have a good aim but this time it was not deliberate. The model never flew again needless to say.
It seems to me that we are very reticent to celebrate our heroes in this country, more so if they are still alive. My first modelling hero (apart dad of course) was Vic Smeed, I just loved his Debutante, to me it was the epitome of modern design and I built three of them over the years the last of which is still in a long drawn out process of being refurbished - all that oil soaked balsa, yuck it would have be quicker to make a new one. Considering that Vic published design in the early 50's we are very fortunate that he is still with us 50 plus years later. Then there is Ron Moulton, when I first got the chance to meet him at Old Warden he was very complimentary and
I could not believe what I was hearing, my childhood hero praising me, what is going on? I used to drool over pictures of his models in Aeromodeller and wondered if I could ever match his standard. Phil Smith is 92 now I believe, he still pops in from time to time at the Totton indoor flying organised by Flitehook over the winter and you will often see him wandering around at Middle Wallop. If I am that sprightly and mentally alert at 92 I will be truly grateful. I am so glad I made the acquaintance of Doug McHard at Old Warden (where else?) and helped him fly his models a few times, being able to handle his finely finished models was an absolute pleasure. There are plenty of other modelling heroes still out there or are flying now in calmer airs, have you got any stories? How can we and should we celebrate them more?
Now it is your turn, why not send in some pics of your models, memories and observations, all will be welcome.
That's all for now folks, Howard Metcalfe