Thursday, December 18, 2008

Weekend at Volksies

Not having had enough the previous visit, Norbert and myself decided to join some of the BERG guys for some more action at Tamatieberg. I thought we were in for another pearl of a day when we arrived at the slope and the first plane I unpacked and tossed off the side was my Toko. Although the wind started out well and we still managed to get some quality airtime, it started petering off later in the afternoon.

That was when the first casualty of the day happened when the lift died and Peter Karner lost his foam PSS Mustang. An unsuccessful search followed and Peter decided to wait and see if Mike, who had gone down to the farm, could spot it from the bottom. Not long after this the wind stopped completely before doing a 180° turn on us and a hectic 15 minute flight window ensued on the southern side of the mountain. The next casualty of the day occurred when one of the chaps from Northrand lost a beautiful (but very heavy) PSS Mosquito that he had converted from electric. The general consent from the onlookers was that the unfortunate pilot made the all too common nervous mistake of hanging on the elevator and not letting the plane pick up enough speed to get on step. The resultant "Whack!!" halfway down the mountain could clearly be heard at the top of the slope.

The flying was abruptly cut short when out of the blue, with little warning a thunderbolt struck very close to the tower behind us and everybody decided that discretion was the better part of valor and promptly packed up and left, just as the rain that had been threatening the whole afternoon started. It cleared enough a little later to allow me to get my customary spell of pre-sunset electric flying at the farmhouse with my E-Hawk 1500.

Just to show us how unpredictable Volksies could be, Sunday dawned bright and sunny with very little cloud. Typically you would expect a day like this to generate a lot of thermal activity that inevitably causes erratic flying conditions. Not this day. Mother Nature blessed us with consistent enough wind that we could fly anything and a good couple of big scale gliders were put through their paces. A handful of PSS planes and an assortment of other aircraft were also flown.

My F18 Hornet also got some airtime. Just as I was getting comfortable with the model it rudely reminded me that it has quite an authentic flat spin that needs a good 30-40m of vertical airspace and a healthy nose down attitude to recover from this maneuvre. Fortunately the only damage was to the pilot's pride....

The highlight of the day for me was when I could eventually entice my son away from the stick hut building that he and Russel was so enthralled with, to get some stick time on my aging Gentle Lady. Patience is not generally one of my strong points but the reward of seeing him complete some controlled circles and even a loop or two thrown in to keep his wandering attention on the task at hand, is reward enough for me to keep at it. Thirty minutes was all he could muster before the more interesting survival training excersize beckoned him to complete his and Russel's masterpiece of construction; a very authentic bushman shelter.

Peter Moore pitched up for the Sunday as well and had an absolute ball with his Shongololo and his ASW28. So much so that I decided that this was going to be my next slope project and the fuselage and all the required material has now been acquired. Still need to pay Dion a visit for all the scale goodies to go in the cockpit. Watch this space!!!

We decided to make the most of the opportunity offered by the excellent conditions and stuck around until 4pm before heading back. Plans are already on the drawing table to come back just after the new year to put a good start on the 2009 flying season.

Blake is getting more and more airtime independant from Dad.

Partners in crime!

No Norbert! You gotta throw it, not push it....

Thats more like it!

Tigershark in action during a low level high speed pass.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Exploding LiPo's - Spitfire shot down in Flames

Last week my trusty old GWS Spitfire met it's end. Finally!!!

But not in the usual way as you'd expect, with a crash , - it's had plenty of those. Each time it was repaired and flew again. (These little foam models are amazing and are so easily fixed)

This time it really was "shot down in flames" so to speak.

Without going into too much detail, one of my colleagues had an accident while charging a LiPo battery and it exploded and the burning battery ended up next to my Spitfire. By the time we got the flames extinguished the whole rear end was burned away.

Luckily all the equipment was undamaged, except the ariel wire! Phew!!!!

Anybody need a well used -"Authentic War Bird Look"- Spitfire wing? Just slight singing on the Aileron TE.

So what have I learned from this?
Don't fool around with LiPo's. They are unpredictably things and should never be left to charged on their own.

Also charge them in one of those fireproof bags.