The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Phoenixcubby Reincarnation Day#1

My Cubby #1 is now Phoenixcubby, as it has died many times, and yet once again is coming back! Yesterday I stalled her fuse into three pieces... Today I debrided all the dead stuff, pulled the electronics, and started gluing her back to life. I used thick toothpicks cut in half as structural spars at the three major "joints" and 3-in-1 glue. I also cut out the back upper cabin "posts" where the plastic canopy wedges into the fuselage forming the aft attachment for the wing. You can see the white styrofoam I shaped, sparred and glued to fit (triangle shaped).

The fuselage taped to hold the glued joints together while they set. The white styrofoam can be seen on the top back of the cabin. I plan to cover the forward part of the fuse with Ultracote (red, as that is what I have) to pull it all together snugly. The little square in the front of the cabin is where the front seat went, but I lost that.

Since I have to wait for a new canopy before I can rejoin the wing, I decided to put it under tension to reverse the negative dihedral it has developed. I would settle for a flat wing, but would like to see a little dihedral.

Letting the glue set overnight. Will look to apply the Ultracote to the fuse tomorrow. I will take some tape to the paint and un-paint the sections getting the Ultracote to get better adhesion. I am thinking of painting the interior of the cabin flat black. When the canopy gets here hopefully near the end of this next week, I can put the whole thing back together and fly her again! The motor was toast, but I have an Exceed Alpha motor I had bought a while back for the Cubby that will fit nicely with a new motor mount.

The next question is when do I fly the other brand new Exceed Cubby I got when Phoenix ended up in the tree?

ERazor Feathering Bearing Bad Karma

Got the replacement bearings for the main roto feathering shaft on the ERazor today. I found that, as I suspected, the smaller inner bearing that had shattered left the outer ring firmly stuck to the blade grip. I had to spend some 20 minutes really working it out. In this pic you can see the extracted ring next to the replacement bearing. The larger inner bearing was also bad and I ended up replacing both of them. Put the blades back on, tuned the CCPM and took the ERazor out to the garage for a test run.

Hovered great for about 4 minutes with no tracking deviation, but then one of the main blades, reused from the first crash, cracked away at the grip and I had to hit throttle hold and drop her from about a foot as she became uncontrollable. Fortunately only the blade that cracked was broken but I changed out both of them since there were some signs of damage on the other blade as well (bent the flybar back into position). This blade failed down, not up, as the upper layers of laminate came apart (I bent it down a bit more to show the crack) so I am sure it did not break in the ground strike (the heli came to rest on her skids). New blades, reset everything, and hovered her again without any issues, clean tracking. ERazor is go!

Now if I could just hover at the field...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Beautiful day to fly, but there was carnage...

Finished rounds in the NICU this morning, and left work heading directly for MCRCC's Bob Miller Field. Today was a beautiful day with crystal clear sky, with no winds, occasional gusts. I had an insanely great day! Flew the Cubby over 7 flights, and the Alpha about 4 times! Flew some simple aerobatics, had some great scale take-off's and my landings were successful if not pretty, and some of them were perfect. Unfortunately, Cubby on downwind about 15 feet above the ground, I started a left hand turn and lost her when she stalled and fell like a rock... She shattered into three pieces, the canopy cracked completely though and the motor shaft sheared off. Very ugly, but I should have her back flying within a few days!

Two of my favorite people! Jerry on the left, and Ron on the right, test flying a trainer they were flying together to tune it up. Both have taught me as instructor pilots, and Ron buddy boxes with me on my Alpha 450. I truly enjoy these gentleman, two of the nicest guys it has been my pleasure to know. 

Paul Verger, one of our AMA icons, an amazing pilot with competition cred in pattern aerobatics and a leader in the AMA had a very bad day...

This is Paul's gorgeous Extra 300 by Pirate Aircraft at the Pine Grove fly-in a few weeks ago. This kit is no longer manufactured, which makes this a double tragedy...

Paul had put a new faster prop on it and was flying it today in preparation for a scale fly-in at Mobile, Alabama, tomorrow. He had been in the air for quite some time doing some beautiful aerobatics, and was pulling out of a diving turn with high Gs when a wing seperated from the aircraft and it disintegrated in flight... The rear fuse crashed to the ground, but the rest of the plane slowly fluttered down like confetti. It was terrible and everyone just stood there. Paul took it with his usual grace. It pained him, but he said that if you fly you crash. He had this aircraft for 6 years.

Paul (red hat) discussing the Extra 300's motor over the carnage, with Greg. 

The collected wreckage.

Our sympathies with our good friend over the loss of his good friend, his wonderful Pirate Extra 300.

Looks like the winds will return for the next couple of days so not so much flying...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Downtime... windy dayz...

Both of my 450s are broken, awaiting parts so can't do much for them. Winds are wicked so there won't be any flying; just that time of year down here. So I spent a couple hours in the Phoenix flight sim working on both planks and helis. I am still struggling to do nice coordinated turns on my helis. I can hover fair in all directions, but that too needs some work. Every now and then I try to just fly the pattern but making level coordinated turns is very inconsistent with me at the controls; I am all over the place. So I am just doing them over and over again. Sometimes I just think its impossible for me to fly a heli well, but I refuse to give up. I love these helis so much I won't let that happen...

I am not having any problems flying my planks and enjoy it very much! Practicing approaches and landings, simple aerobatics. Fun stuff, but I'd much rather be flying for real!

MCRCC has been asked by the Vets Home to do a static display and some park flying. This will be fun event, perhaps one we can tie in with our Fly-in coming on June 18th. I would like to display my Stearman and Cornell in US Army training colors.

Well, back to the sim...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Brisk day at MCRCC

It was a crazy windy day at MCRCC today, but I was determined to fly!

Cubby #1 went up and I flew her fair, maybe better considering the wind, but I had a great time. My landings were rough, and some were crashes. Okay, all were crashes to some degree. Each time I patched her up and flew her again. Bent the prop shaft with one hard landing (prop saver worked). Cracked the fuse in the usual places. The last time though, the rudder control horn sheared off the end of the rudder and that was it. Brought her home, spent about 2 hours on her and she is back to flying shape! I had to make a hinge for the rudder and rebuild the control horn corner. She looks rough, but I just can't put anymore paint on her.

I have not had much luck with my helis lately. I took the ERazor, my best flying heli, and immediately planted her. It looks like last time I worked on her I failed to replace a screw on the pitch servo, the horn of which came off the moment the heli spun up, and that was all she wrote. Bent the main rotor, sheared the upper Jesus bolt, bent the feathering shaft, crushed a ball bearing (the ERazor uses ball bearings for thrust  bearings) and chipped gears on the elevator servo. This will be a few hours work. Bummer...  But, I have the parts.

Dickie Ober lent me a CF 450 tail fin so I can finish the EXI 450 repairs today. Thanks, Dickie!

Putting away the Alpha Sport and I noticed too much play in the rudder servo. Turns out at some point it stripped. Replaced the stock Eflite servo with a Speltrum DSP75, no problem.

After 4 hours of flying and waiting for the wind to die down, I finally called it a day. Love my Cubby, and can't wait to fly her again! Maybe Wed!

Friday, April 22, 2011

MX2 CG "Mods"

In retrospect, after some insightful discussion on RCGods about this issue, I think one of the posters was correct that the battery goes forward under the cowl. The 3300 mAh fits in their nicely without any modification (though having the mid-post cut out makes getting it in their easier). The CG is very very skittish; if I merely flex my fingertip it flies off in one direction or the other, no subtlety.  Here are pics of the final result.

The "unmodified" electronics bay of the MX2 (I did cut out a post).

The 3300 mAh pushed as far forward as it will go. Its sitting right up against the ESC. Should the ESC burn, this baby is gonna burst into sunlight...  You can see the post I had cut out before. Serendipitous as it makes getting the big battery in and out easier. The battery fits quite tight, it isn't going anywhere.

I had to cutout the base of the canopy (overhead the battery) to accommodate the battery. The battery lifts as it passes over the wing spar just enough it lifted the canopy.

I balance the prop (it needed fairly large pieces electrical tape on two blades, or I could have chiseled a sizable chunk out of one blade), but even with the surely slightly out of balance nose cone modification the motor is smooth. Still can't get the cowl off...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MX2 Nose Cone done!

The Gorilla glue finished curing this morning, so I drilled carefully closer to the shoulder (see my previous post).

You can see the 10mm mark on the screw now shows another 10 mm of screw!

It closed the gap and the nose cone is secured to the motor shaft. I ran it and there is ever so slight an imbalance in the prop which I haven't balanced yet. Like the rest of this cool plank, its ginormous.

And there she is! Glad to have a heavy foamie in my hangar!  Still need to balance the prop and figure out the tail heavy CG issue.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MX2 Build!

In the previous post we unboxed my BliztRCWorks MX2 Pro from, my first purchase form them, though I have made several purchases from their cousins Nitroplanes, xHeli and, whom I love buying from! Here's what it looked like on their website:


This was an easy build, maybe 2 hours, mostly problem solving. There were the usual issues, screws that don't fit mostly. It came together relatively easy, but to fly I have one issue, a major design problem with the prop cone to overcome...

The build started with the main gear which took all of 5 minutes and was uneventful. The next step was the tail assembly. It also went together pretty quickly and easily. The parts fit together well and the mini pics were accurate, or so I think. The control horns went on easily and the clevi were easily adjustable. The preinstalled decals however came up short as you can see where the tail joins and the decal misses...

This thing is really big...

Took the Orange receiver and satellite off the corkscrewed EXI 450 (more on my plans for that later) fitted forward of the battery section. I later had to extend the battery tray by cutting out the left post as the 4S battery I have are 3300 mAh and I think it was designed for 2000 mAh (odd, as it is still waaay tail heavy even with a 3300 mAh shoved as far forward as I can get it. Still need to solve that problem too...).

Here's the problem that has an easy solution that's not available to me... They must have made a design change and not told each other. The nose cone goes on with an M3-30mm machine screw which is way too short. Or actually, its long enough, but can't reach far enough. The chamber for the nose cone screw is supposed to be one size all the way down, but they narrowed it half way down, so the screw can't make it to the end of the channel. Only 10mm of the 30mm screw is past the end of the channel. It needs another 10-15mm to secure into the propshaft...

You can see the step off that shouldn't be there.

A longer M3 would work, but, Home Depot doesn't carry less then M4 and Lowes' has M3 but not a 35-40mm one. Drove around town, no joy. So, what the hell... I think I can shave a little off sides of the narrow chamber, hopefully centered, and get the 15 mm I need, but I worry the walls will be too thin. I poured some Gorrila polyurethane glue in the cone so it would expand up and offer some support. Nothing to lose, will end up buying a new cone either way. Still curing, wonder how this will turn out.

Jack-Jack (The Incredibles) is in the cockpit. No cone yet of course. You can see the Orange satellite just forward of the cockpit on the right. I put some blue electrical tape along the flaked up seam. I forgot to take pics of the wing installation. A CF spar runs across half the width of the wing. I had to struggle to get the wing set screw in on the left side, it just wouldn't pass. I probed it and managed to find the center. On the right the screw popped out of the bottom of the fuse, so I probed the left side down through the fuse and then passed the screw backwards to clear any detritus blocking the screw path and re-thread the nut if needed. It seemed to need both, and I was then able to pass the screw and set it properly. In all that I just forgot to take the pics...

 All in all she looks pretty good, but man, she's big!

Had to shuffle my Stearman over to make room. She takes up some space! 

BlitzRCWorks MX2 foamie, Hobby King Orange receiver and sat, stock servos. Can't say what the ESC or motor are as I can't get to them without really working over the cowl (and I tried). Can't wait to fly her!

Wrote to and we'll see if they can help me solve the nose cone problem!

BlitzRCWorks MX2 Unboxed

My BlitzRCWorks MX2 arrived yesterday and I unboxed it with much excitement. But I was surprised at some of the poor quality of the design decals, which were awkwardly applied in some places, designed poorly in others, and done nicely in others. Its a ginormous foamie, and it does look very nice! Got it on sale for $150 (regularly $350 they told me) from This was my first purchase from them.

The box (added this pic 4.22.11 on its way to recycle).

One wheel pant wasn't glued, the other had a lot of glue spillover (the white dots).

You can see the line where the plastic cowl joins the fuselage. Just with handling this chipped and flaked along the lines. You can see a large folded crease near the front, the black line. These were present on both sides.

The other side. You can see a wavy wrinkle across the front of the cowl too. I wanted to inspect the ESC and the motor, but I could not get the cowl to come off. I feared breaking it if I persisted, and the already chipping decal was coming apart. When something goes wrong it will need to come off... not sure how that is going to go.

My kit was an ARF. They made  my order by taking an RTF kit and pulling the receiver and the transmitter. I know this because the box says RTF and I bought it ARF. In repacking they chipped 2mm off the faux exhaust pipe.

Apparently a simple cross over of flaps was the choice solution for the decals across the top of the fuse at the vertical stabilizer.

It is clear the decals were designed to cross the hinge lines, but weren't always cleanly cut.

The tops of the wings looked awesome. The undersides saw the across-the-hinge-decal problem in several spots.

Micro pictures made up the otherwise generally complete instruction manual. They managed to get it all on one page, but I couldn't make out any details.

The canopy covers the electronics and battery bay.

Next up, the build!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another pretty darn good flying day!

Today was meeting day at MCRCC. It was windy, so I didn't head out to the field until around noon. I didn't get to fly my Cubby or my Alpha, but I did get to corkscrew my EXI 450 into the ground.

I had set her up with the new miniMEMS gyro and converted her to a tail boom servo. The latter because the original fuselage servo tray cracked off. The EXI require complete removal of the tail box from the rear of the fuselage to put the tail boom servo brackets on. A lot of work but easy enough. The gyro seemed to be set up fine, but I made a mistake I made once before... I lifted off the first time and the heli turned slowly.  I set it back down. I made the mistake of thinking it was that the gyro was reversed. I reversed the gyro, strike one. I then noticed that the blue light did not illuminate on the gyro after having reversed it. I figured it needed to be rebound, mistake number two.  Rebinding it did not solve the problem, but I decided to fly it anyway, strike three. It lifted off and twisted high and violently corkscrewed into the ground. Over in 2 seconds.

On inital inspection the tally is: broken main blade, bent flybar (almost certainly bent main rotor shaft and feathering shaft comes with that), two stripped metal gear servos, bent tail tube, bent tail rotor shaft, broken tail blade, sheared off tail guard. I have the parts, but its a good week's worth of work.

Jerry and Bob setting up one of the MCRCC trainers for me.
Jerry was presented with the first AMA District ACE award for  excellence in contributions to our hobby today! Congratulations, Jerry! As one of your students, I am thrilled for your recognition by the AMA!

But here's the part that made it all better! It was too windy for my planes, so Jerry offered to buddy box me on one of the club's 40 class nitro trainers. We did three hops, and it went pretty well!  But the winds wreaked havoc and on the third landing attempt of our final hop a wind shear dropped it in the last tree at the approach end of the runway. It came to rest on the ground completely unharmed.

I continue to be really glad and excited to have joined this flying club! I enjoy the people and the flying field more than I imagined I would.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Can Fly! A totally awesome day!

This morning I took the rebuilt Cubby and my ERazor 450 out to the church field. I came with both a confidence I can fly and a strong motivation to just get on with it. I was a little worried about how the Cubby would fly, being a bit bent, but it flew great. Made me a little nervous at first that it wasn't responding well to the inputs, but I think I was under controlling a little bit when I felt that was happening. I really enjoyed flying today, and I brought back both aircraft relatively intact! I did run into another Ent, but this time it was my fault as I lost sight of the fact it was closer than it appeared.

The importance of these videos is not in my skill or the videography, neither of which are very good, but in that I managed to do it at all! (I wasn't able to adjust the contrast, so things are a bit washed out).

Flying awesome, until I run into an Ent...but we escape this time!

While waiting for the Cubby repairs to dry I took the ERazor 450 up.

Finally a good takeoff, flight and fair landing!

An incredible, awesomely rewarding day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Acute Power Loss

The video tells the story. Still not quite sure what happened... Out of frame a bit as I was using the keychain hatcam.

Cubby Rebuilt

You can read the story of loss and recovery of the Cubby here, but here's the rest of the story!

The wing took major damage. The huge chunk bashed in on the right leading edge I filled with piece of carved closed cell foam which I glued into place, covered with package tape, and then Ultracoted to cover and strengthen.

The wing was almost divided in half. I put a 6.5 in length of 1/4 inch dowel in the middle as a spar, then glued the halves together, and held them tight with package tape. I then Ultracoted the area for more strength and to improve the look.

The underside with the package tape.

Tried to save the battery. One cell was discharged to around 2V, the other 2 were below 2. I recovered 2 of the cells, but the third one would not take a charge, so I had to recycle the battery. I used my Skycharger out on the deck with the battery in a flowerpot in case it caught fire. Never seen a LiPo fire? Google it... quite impressive. 

And here's what she looked like in the driveway this afternoon! Took her to MCRCC Field, but it was too windy to fly... Maybe Friday!

The red stuff is th Ultracote plastic. Its the covering used when building or repairing balsa/plywood planes, goes nicely on foamies too.

Cubby back on the wall!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recovered the Cubby!

My friend Patrick Rochon and I gathered up his 40 ft ladder and headed out to rescue the Cubby from the Ent that had gathered her up.(Here's the story on how I lost her.)

We threw the 40ft ladder in the back of Patrick's Pick-em' up truck. This being Mississippi I required neither a seatbelt, nor a helmet, but I failed to have drunk the requisite 6-pack of Bud Light prior to this adventure.
My reflection as I sat in back serving as ballast for the unmarked ladder. 
At least I had my Boston FD Ladder 15 T-shirt on!

Patrick holding the carcass. We tried shaking the tree, but were unable to accomplish much. He brought up just getting a chain saw, but I reminded him that this being Mississippi and the tree being a Magnolia, someone would be going to jail... We trundled in the ladder through the thorny brush, and I climbed up 20ft with his manliness holding the ladder in the soft ground against a wavering tree. I used a 25ft pool brush, but still couldn't reach it from 20 ft up. The tree thinned out too much to extend the ladder, so I just started shaking the tree from 20ft up and found I had pretty good purchase from up there. I had that tree moving about 2-3 ft, and the ladder sliding all around. I was determined to get that plane out of that tree! About this time I started thinking I should have had that 6-pack, because it would be hard to explain why I fell 20 ft into the woods to rescue what some would consider a toy, and beer explains a lot of things... I managed to free the plane and it fell another 10 feet where I was able to poke it with the extended brush, eventually coaxing it out of the Magnolia. This must happen a lot in this trailer park, as no one so much as looked out a window at two strangers backing into a vacant trailer pad and climbing through the woods with a ladder...

But we succeeded! She is badly damaged, but she is no longer alone in a tree... Just in time as tomorrow will be storming!

Started on that 6-pack... Broken wing, missing right wheel and wing struts. I have replacements!

All the electronics look good.

The gyro... I don't think it was the gyro that caused the problem. I think the receiver went rogue and the gyro kept the wings level right up into the trees. But I am taking it out anyway...

Curiously, the prop-saver with two O-rings kept the prop smack dab in the middle of the motor.

So, this week I will be refurbishing my Cubby. I have already ordered a new one, so I will have two. This one will be my banger, and I am glad to have her. It reduces the fear of wrecking a "nice" plane. I know she can take a beating and keep on going! I will buttress up the wing and fix that leading edge, and be up again by the end of the week!

Special thanks to Patrick for helping me out!