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User Journal

Journal Journal: O-Solo-Me-O!

I got up at 7:30am on Saturday morning itching to get to the flying field. The weather over the last three weekends had been atrocious for learning - sunny, but constant 20mph plus winds. Definitely not weather for me to be flying my LT-40! I'd been watching the weather all week; Sunday was going to be a write-off due to a thunderstorm front moving in (equalling the all-time record of 13 thunderstorms in July for Chicagoland) but Saturday was going to be warm and sunny with clear sky's lasting all day!

My batteries were charged and I was ready to go. I loaded the plane into the car (have you ever tried getting a 70" wingspan aircraft into a Nissan Altima? There's definitely an art to it) and started the half hour drive to the field.

I got to the field at 9:00am, eager to carry on with my training. Normally at this time in the morning there are a few club members flying, but this morning I couldn't see any cars I recognised in the parking lot. When I opened my car door the reason became aparent: the wind came blasting into the car straight out of the South.

Well I wasn't going to drive all the way to the field just to drive straight back home again, so I loaded my plane and field equipment onto my cart and walked the half mile through the forest preserve to the flying field. One and a half hours later, after sitting and watching the horizontal wind-sock pointing directly at me, I broke down my 'plane and went home resigned to the fact that the Chicago weather was going to mean yet another weekend on the ground.

Sunday morning came much sooner than I expected due to the fact that I'd forgotten to shut the blasted alarm off. Oh well, I was awake so I may as well pop downstairs, eat some toast and read the Sunday newspaper. I got downstairs and suddenly realised that there was sunlight streaming through the family room blinds. I thought it was meant to be stormy?

I stuck my head out of the front door and found a warm summer morning with barely a breeze blowing. Five minutes later, after getting a day-pass from my darling wife and due to the fact that I hadn't unloaded my plane from the day before, I was in the car and heading to the field. I pulled into the parking lot half expecting to be greeted with swaying trees and empty parking spaces. Not today! Three or four of the regular 'mobile hangers' were there.

What followed was a great morning of flying. I managed to get six flights in, practising my clockwise and anti-clockwise pattern, flat figure eights, take offs, landings, touch-and-goes, and rudder-elevator flight. My club has a very structured flight training programme: every 'newbie' gets a training card on which are check-boxes for twelve different areas of flight proficiency ranging from ground checks and safety protocols through in-flight manouvers to the obligatory take-offs and landings. Well what do you know, by the time the storm front finally arrived at 11:30am I had multiple ticks in all the boxes. One handshake from my instructor later and I was passed for solo flight!

A big thank you to all the instructors at PropMasters R/C Club who have worked so hard at creating and maintaining an excellent flight training programme. Special thanks go to Marv my primary instructor who must have taken a good couple of hours out of his own flying time to help me get to this point.

User Journal

Journal Journal: It's bleedin' typical, innit! 1

Bloody typical. I waited a whole two weeks to go to the flying club last Thursday, and on the evening in question it was foggy, rainy and windy! Honestly, I moved away from England just to get rid of this weather crappiness! Admittedly, some question the sanity of moving to Chicago...

The covering of the LT-40 is going well. I've managed to get the fuselage covered completely now, with only one minor mishap along the way. IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: Do not use a craft hot-air gun to shrink monokote covering film tight. They run a little bit too hot, and have a tendancy to flame-thrower a dirty great hole through your previously perfect covering job if you don't whip 'em away from the newly taut surface fast enough.

Lessons learned:

1) Never cover your aircraft near your three year old daughter. You'll end up accidentally melting a hole through the covering, and then your daughter will end up accidentally learning a whole bunch of words that you don't want her repeating in polite company.

2) Dime sized holes are easy to cover will small scrap pieces of covering using judicious applications of your covering iron. However, the small scrap pieces of covering will be fundamentally changed during the process. They will gain the ability to attract your eyes directly to them with an as yet undocumented physical force akin to magnetism.

3) Don't try to save money by using your wife's craft supplies when building your plane. Spend the extra $20 on getting a heat gun that's actually going to work.

Oh well, back to covering the stabiliser I guess...

Edit: Spent a few hours in the basement tonight and got the stabiliser and the elevator control surfaces covered. Don't like the covering job that I managed for the stabiliser; there are a few too many wrinkles in it that I just can't seem to shrink away. There's a lot to learn about this covering lark.

Edit: Just found out from a far more experienced builder that you solve this problem by drilling 1/32" holes through all the internal spars in your wing/stabiliser/fin. If you don't do this then when you heat the Monokote to shrink it, the air inside the sealed compartment expands and balloons the coating out. This stops the coating from shrinking, and therefore preserves the wrinkles for all to see. Since I've covered the structure already, drilling the holes in the struts is impossible. Instead, I'm going to try using a pin to poke pilot holes from the surface of the struts, through the strut, and out the side at a 45 degree angle. Hopefully that won't look too ugly, and will provide enough venting that the compartment can 'breathe' during the shrinking process.


Journal Journal: Two days to go... 1

Well, it's two days to go before I take my first flying lesson. I contacted the President of our local R/C Flying Club last week and he invited me out to the field this Thursday evening to take a few flights on their trainer! Hopefully the glorious weather will hold out until then.

My plane is coming along quite nicely. I spent five or six hours working on it this weekend, and have the engine compartment fuel-proofed and the Fin & Rudder covered now. If I can continue to work a little on the plane every evening then I should have her flying within three or four weeks. I'm still a little nervous about covering the wings though; they're a huge surface area and apparently quite difficult to cover well. The fin alone took three hours of work to get right, and that's only 10" x 10"!

User Journal

Journal Journal: So I figured, "What the hell..."

So I figured "what the hell, I may as well write something for this journal." After all, my job (laughably nearly called it a career there) gets more and more like a Dilbert cartoon every day, so I may as well model myself after Wally and use up as many of the company resources as possible.

The only problem, of course, is that I'm really not interesting enough to maintain a journal on.

Well, there is the whole R/C aircraft thing I suppose. I'm currently building a Sig Kadet LT-40 in my basement. 6' wingspan and 4' fuselage length. I've been practising like crazy on Great Planes Realflight G2 simulator to try and learn how to fly it. I'm currently working on finding a flying club in my area (current favorite is Prop Masters to join up and learn to fly at. There's something that's always appealed to me about building and flying my own aircraft, and taking the R/C route is certainly cheaper (although it's not a cheap hobby, I can tell you! The start-up costs can be pretty high, especially if you're building from a kit rather than an ARF model.)

I finally have all the component parts of the model completed now (wing, fuselage, stabilizer and fin) and am about ready to start covering in Monokote. After that I install the engine, fuel system, servos, receiver and battery, then I'm ready to take my pride and joy out to the flying field and smash it into matchsticks on the first flight!

Oh well, at least the journey has been fun :)

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