The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Knitting... I think I'll take up knitting.

As I noted in my last post, I was unusually anxious about flying for the first time at CAGS today. I had no reason to be, other than existentially. After today I realize my issue is I've lost my mojo. I have been anxious flying because I am in my own head looking for my mojo. Bad landing gear on the Sukhoi, yes, but mojo lost is not good for flying. Maybe something like knitting or cross-stitch is more my speed?

The first sign of bad mojo was the Twinstar. I put it in the car, one of the last planes I loaded. In the back of the car piled on the other planes, it slid forward and being that the nose cone for this plane is a little piece of crap, it cracked in half. Dammit. So I pulled it out of the car, and as I walked into the house I dropped it.   I. Friggin. Dropped. It. I carried it in the rest of the way and took these pics.

The wings cracked in half and what was left of the nose cone completely snapped off. That's just great. So I left her behind, and instead took the Stearman. I can't remember what she has for a center wing spar, but it looks to have given way and I will need to address that. Why do I even like this plane? I mean, besides she looks cool and flies well...

I drove up to CAGS in about 40 minutes, and made it through the gate with the help of Joel, who was in one heckuva hurry and took off after letting me in. I missed the turn the first time, figured it out and arrived to find Gary Hoffman, Joel and John already flying. Matt stopped by with his little guy, for a brief visit. The winds weren't bad, a bit gusty at times, but nothing I haven't flown in before. I knew pretty quickly that I wasn't going to maiden the Spitfire, and wasn't going to fly the Stearman as it and I haven't come to an agreement just yet about who is flying her. I took the Alpha 450 up a couple of times. And that's bad mojo sign number two. I thought I would cheat the cabbage flying just above the weeds at the end of the runway for giggles, and she immediately grabbed a handful by her nose gear and flipped over. 

Despite all the previous times I have tried, I finally managed to rip off the nose gear.

Okay.... So that's how its going to be. Lets start Amateur Hour then, you know, the show where I pretend I've never done this before. I fuel up and fire up the 30 CC MXS-R. After listening to the sweet sounds of the Twin DA 100 and 120's with canisters (see the vid below), my single DLE 30cc sounds like a toy, popping and snapping, loud and obnoxious. The Loud American in an Italian museum. Add to that she needs to warm up a bit to like her Idle. (Gary shared with me an interesting technique, putting in a Idle Up switch where in one mode the idle is lower by 5% for landing, the true idle, tand in the other its higher for maneuvers. I am thinking of trying that). It had been so sweet listening to those twins I wasn't sure my engine was even running right. But she was. I took her up and nervously put her through her paces, simple and easy, and I landed her. She did fine despite me. She did tend to come down a bit briskly, but I worked the wind and she would land okay, but it was clear I am not landing well. For my amateur trick, she was on the ground taxiing and her idle was high, I went to kill the ignition and let her roll in, but I hit the electric kill on the right, before I realized I had hit the wrong one she rolled by me, and headed towards the fence. I killed the ignition using the gas kill switch (which, to add to confusion, on the Spitfire is on the Aux 2 switch, something I can't seem to change). The engine stopped just before she hit the fence.  Embarrassing.

My landing technique is really sucking lately. Something is in my head and my mojo is missing... I just can't seem to get it right. A couple of times I put her down hard (those gear took it fine), she'd bounce, a little power and she'd settle down sweet.  That's how many of the landings went, none of them graceful. On the third flight on my second landing of that flight, she bounced, and for some reason I just stood there and watched as she stalled a foot off the ground and dropped her nose hard, twisting sideways and coming down on the side of her left landing gear, she came to an abrupt stop on her chin, then flipped over. Yeah, there's a first time for everything and this was her first true crash, and I bent that left one, broke her prop, and chipped her cowl. Bad mojo. She has never suffered any damage before, other than a prop. Fortunately at first glance its not bad. I have been working on this on the sim, which of course is way too easy...

I hung out with the boys for a while, enjoyed watching Joel, John and Gary, whose experience and skill were a pleasure to watch. Joel has some mad skills, and flew his Trex 700 with incredible talent and focus.

The flight line. 

Loved these "Cholo" Wheels on Joel's Composite ARF (CARF) Yak. This is a beautiful plane, and these quirky gear and wheels were pretty cool.

Joel with his Twin DA100 equipped Yak. A professional pilot of real aircraft, and at one time a sponsored RC pilot (heli's I think), he is one of those people who just has the touch. He just knows how to make an aircraft do what he wants it to. Amazing technique, and fun to watch, fixed wing and heli.

Listen to that sweet DA 120 twin with canisters. It so smooth... Joel's Yak had a DA 100 on it, and that too was silky smooth. Made me feel barbaric with my noisy DLE 30!

My bad mojo aside, I enjoyed their company, and they were so welcoming. I enjoyed chatting at length with John whose long history in the sport is sure to rub off on me, if I get the chance to fly wth him again. He made me feel calm, and that was nice. If I can figure out how to get my application in, I am joining CAGS. I think it worth the drive every so often. Maybe more often. I have a lot to learn.

Thanks, Gary, for inviting me, and Joel and John for being so warm and welcoming! I count this as a good day.


  1. Hey, don't knock knitting. It's a craft just like building a model plane from scratch. I've done both! You'll want to knit yourself a unique and fashionable wool cap for the Frozen Fingers Fun Fly, right?

  2. Oh, no argument from me! It would be cheaper and lest angst inducing to mess up in knitting :-)