“97 Uniform, you are clear our control area. Contact Center on 118.7. Good day”
“Contact Center; 18.7; 97 Uniform. Good day.”
“St. Louis Center, Grumman 9797 Uniform at 19.0, heading 086.”
“97 Uniform. St. Louis Center.
“Center, 97 Uniform. We’d like an altitude change to 23.0 for better winds aloft. We also request a routing change to directà”
So it goes, a routine pilot-to-Air Route Traffic Control Center conversation. Known as “Center”, the ARTCC is the pilot’s contact for flight change requests and information. This is what Sport Aviator’s “Contact Center” is all about.
Please use this area to Contact The Sport Aviator Editorial Team. Let us know what you like about Sport Aviator. Above all let us know what you DON’T like about the publication.
Contact us to ask any technical question about Model Aviation that you may have. We’ll do our best to get the answers directly to your email address as soon as possible. Questions of general interest may even be published in this section for the benefit of every model pilot, (unless you request that we do not). Names will also be kept confidential if you wish.
Please contact us. Click here to Contact Center (EditorSptAviator@aol.com).
Our regular mail address is:
Model Aviation Sport Aviator
Academy of Model Aeronautics
5161 East Memorial Drive
Muncie, IN 47302
We look forward to hearing from all our readers.
Nice Start to your e-magazine! I am the newsletter and website editor for our club (Mid Missouri Radio Control Association, http://www.mmrca.org/) and I have linked to your magazine from our website. I will also put an article in the next newsletter. (ed. Thank you)
I am a relatively new pilot (2004 will be my second flying season) learning on A SIG LT-40. My instructor is a pattern pilot. He has been very thorough teaching me “straight and level flight” and to perform the oval pattern. I am a college professor and only have time to fly on weekends and then only when other family matters don’t take priority. This makes my progress slow, but hopefully steady.
As a new pilot, I have had a couple of frustrating situations that your e-magazine may be able to help with. I am frustrated with the lack of a clear list of the skills I need to acquire to become a “good” RC pilot. Do required skills include:
Straight and level flight
Both left and right level turns
Lining up and flying straight down the runway (ed: Only when allowed by club rules.)
Learning slow flight
Judging distance and altitude
Crosswind flying and landing
Landing on both ends of the runway
Learning the landing glide path
Understanding the dangers of stalls
My instructor has been very good and stepped me through these from his own knowledge (ed. A good instructor).
But after soloing, the general approach for most is to just go out and fly a bunch of stuff and learn things as you go. No working on developing particular skills, but just fly and learn as situations develop. This is fun, but may not be very helpful in developing into a better pilot.
In research on the problem as to what to work on next, I found in the AMA documents list on the AMA website, a list of skills an “introductory pilot”, a senior instructor, should be able to perform before attempting to teach a beginner pilot. This list seems like a good list of skills to work on next. My question is what should a “good” pilot know how to do proficiently and how can they go about learn those skills?
I will continue to ask my pattern friend questions, but he has invested a lot of time in me and that has taken time from his pattern practice. I do know from my work, that one of the best ways to really learn something is to teach it. It would be great if we could develop some guidelines and instruction material to help accomplish this.
I have noted that LSF (ed. League of Silent Flight.) has a set of self-imposed steps that members can work on demonstrating proficiency. This might be a way to motivate some to become “better” pilots and those that don’t want to do this, don’t have to.
Second, in the January “Model Aviation” Bob Hunt commented on the low number of people that compete. From my perspective I have two problems. The coverage in “Model Aviation” and in the rulebook, seem geared to those that already compete. This may have been done before, but a series of introductory articles to simply explain each competition and how to get started would be very helpful to beginners. (ed. We can have each organization contribute their special piece here)
Our club only hosts a pattern competition and that only started last year. They say that I can compete in Sportsman class but I am not comfortable with my basic skills enough to try things in front of judges. Maybe I will try it in a year or two. I know that I would improve quickly from this but I would like to develop those basic “good” pilot skills first.
I also have limited time to practice. Those with less practice are likely not to place well (ed. True) and that may be less fun (ed. Not true). In the early stages of learning to fly RC airplanes I think a skill accomplishment test would be much better as anyone that demonstrates the skill is considered successful. I hope these comments are useful and if I can be of help in clarifying them please contact me.
Thank you for writing us. You ask a number of intelligent questions and have some very good ideas. Before trying to answer some of them, please keep one thing in mind. The sport of model aviation, unlike full-size aviation, has no “governing body” that can act with the force of law as can the FAA. As such, any rules or regulations the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) may suggest are just that, suggestions. The organization does its best, as you noted about the suggested minimum instructor ability “requirements.” But there are many individuals, with a great deal of modeling experience, that have other ways of teaching and requirements before soloing a new pilot.
With that in mind, the list of abilities you presented is indeed a good place to start. If a model pilot can easily perform all these “maneuvers” regardless of wind or various field locations ,then they are indeed an accomplished sport pilot. I would add just one other criteria; one many instructors have before even soloing a student. A student ready for RC soloing should also be able to recover his aircraft from any unusual attitude or position that is likely to occur once the student starts flying alone. Some few examples would be demonstrating recovery from a low approach, good missed-approach ability, recovery from over rolling a turn, power-off approach and landing plus a few others such as spin recovery.
A good sport RC pilot should be able to recover from ANY bad attitude or problem. This includes flying and landing, using rudder only without aileron control, in an aileron equipped aircraft. Other important items to know would be how to recognize a dying on-board battery and how to get the plane back safely; flying and landing a permanently out of trim airplane, how to land a scale or high performance aircraft and crosswind landing techniques.
Not every model pilot is willing, or even wishes to, learn all these maneuvers. This is fine. One good thing about model aviation is that there is room for everyone and everyone can progress at their own pace and to their own chosen development level. For those wanting to advance their flying skills, it is all there for them. Just plan each flight ahead and then perform the maneuvers you have chosen. In the next few months, Sport Aviator will present various aspects of the skills outlined above and in your letter. We have already started with “Landing Techniques” and “Loops.” We will even take your suggestion about trying to develop a list of suggested skills to master and techniques to teach. But we already know that this task will be like debating the infamous “downwind turn.” We will start this project as soon as I can get my Kevlar vest and crash helmet on.
As for competition, you and Bob Hunt are right. But remember that not everyone wants to compete. Most model pilots enjoy modeling for its own personal rewards, individual challenges and the friendship of all the great people flying model aircraft. Personally, I can think of no better 3 reasons to fly models. Competition, and the work and devotion it requires, are just not on many model pilots’ need-to-do list. Sport Aviation has many rewards all its own.
For us crazy competition pilots, (my own vice is Masters Pattern), the time and energy we put into making that perfectly round loop is the major reason we fly models at all (except for the great friends we make). To us, it is not the competition itself, but the exacting piloting skills that competition demands that fuels our modeling drive.
Do we become better model pilots because of competition? Heck yes, and that is another benefit. But can sport pilots also become better model pilots by pushing their own ability horizons while sport flying? Double Heck, YES.
The wonder of model aviation is that this one sport really can accommodate all. Thank you for your ideas and suggestions. Look for the promised articles and please continue to contribute your thoughts.
I think your new teaching section (Sport Aviator) is great. I read your article on landing and it was very helpful. As a new to semi-new member to the flying world, I have some input that might be useful.
A glossary of terms that could be downloaded would be a big help to the new pilot when reading any lessons or articles. Any conversion charts that may be available would also be helpful.
Charts that explain what size motor would be needed for a plane. Charts that could be used to tell what size 4 stroke has the same power as a 2 stroke and what the difference is. Why a certain size prop and pitch is used on a particular size plane?
Since I am new at this and don’t have some of this information I feel it is needed for the new pilot before all of the other items.
Thank you for your time,
Dear Mr. Forsythe,
We will eventually publish a glossary of terms as more technical terms are printed. For now, and maybe even easier to use than a glossary, we are printing all technical terms in blue. Clicking on these terms will bring up the definition. There is no need to move from the article being read to a glossary to find out what an unfamiliar term means. With this method readers who already know the term’s definition, do not have to wade through a parenthetical definition (i.e. what the word means) inside the article itself.
Your chart selections are a good idea. We will try to work on the engine/prop/aircraft chart and to explain some of the performance differences between 2 and 4 stroke engines. 4-strokes are somewhat problematical to rate as there are several different types. A supercharged YS 63, for example, has more horsepower than a normally aspirated 90. But the 63 still has less torque than the 90 and therefore, cannot turn a propeller as large as can the 90.
Thank you for the suggestions and we will work on a descriptive engine article in the next few months. Please let us know any other suggestions you may wish to share.
I have a Hobbico SuperStar 40 with an OS 46 FX engine. I am converting it to a floatplane and have changed the wires at the main wheel position and the nose wheel to attach to the floats.
There will be about 2 inches between the bottom of the prop and the top of the floats and I can adjust the angle by moving the nose wheel wire up or down. My problem now is how far the front of the float should extend beyond the prop, should the step in the float be directly under the plane center of gravity and should there be a different CG with the floats added? I would appreciate any information you can give me.
Dear Mr. Murray,
It is always hard to give aircraft advice from a distance, but we will give it our best try. Fortunately, we have a good deal of seaplane experience and many old construction notes to use in refreshing our memory.
Since float position is determined by the relationship between the aircraft’s CG to the float’s “step” position, there is no set float tip distance in front of the prop. It will be whatever it works out to be. However, the tips should extend at least 2-4 inches forward of the propeller. If, after adjusting the step/CG position, your floats do not extend at least 2 inches, they may be too small for your airplane.
The float’s step position should be about 3/4 inches forward of the airplane’s CG. This allows the plane to taxi float tip high, accelerate without digging a tip into the water and then, once on the step, to rotate for takeoff. The aircraft’s CG always remains the same as it is based upon the airplane’s aerodynamics, not float position.
In seaplanes, it is very important to make sure the floats are exactly parallel and directly in line with the line of flight. The tips should have no more than a 1-2 degree positive angle of attack. They should never have a negative attack angle. The float mounting system must be inflexible and the floats rigidly mounted. A water rudder, driven by the nosewheel strut, is also a great help.
Flying seaplanes is fun but different. Your takeoffs and landings might be much farther away from you than usual, so keep that in mind as you practice.
I have read several articles on wing washout and still am not sure the direction of the leading edge required and why washout is important.
“Washout” is a strange name for an aerodynamic system and is therefore somewhat confusing to everyone.
Basically, wing washout adjusts the wing’s leading edge’s angle of attack to the oncoming air to help make the ailerons more effective at slow speeds. An airplane’s wing, depending on a few factors, usually stalls (loses lift) as the leading edge gets more than 20 degrees above the horizon, without power at slower airspeeds.
Since ailerons operate by adjusting the amount of lift for each wing half, they lose effectiveness if the wing is not producing any lift (stalled). In a stall, a straight wing has no aileron control and level flight may only be maintained by the rudder.
Wing washout lowers the leading edge (pointing it downward), only in the outboard wing section near the wing tip, by about 2-3 degrees. Therefore, while the rest of the wing is stalled at a 20 positive angle of attack, the outboard wing section is still “flying” since its attack angle is only 17 degrees (20 deg. minus the 3 deg. washout). As the ailerons are located in the outboard sections, and that part of the wing is still producing some lift, the ailerons remain somewhat effective. That is the theory behind washout.
What is the reality? For scale models that usually have outboard ailerons only, washout can be very effective. After all, it was invented for full-size aircraft and should remain effective on a miniature version. For sport models that have ailerons across nearly the full wingspan, washout has less effectiveness. By lowering the angle of attack at the tips, the wing produces less total lift then would a straight wing. That is the price for having washout.
Since sport model ailerons are so large and powerful, they remain effective right up to the stall point. True, they do lose all effectiveness at the stall, but by then the model has stalled, pointed nose down, and started to regain flying speed. The ailerons immediately regain effectiveness. It is the designer’s choice to use washout in a sport model and always a compromise trading total lift for extra aileron effectiveness at slow speeds.
I have a 40 LA that runs great on the bench, I’ll bolt it in a plane start it up give it full throttle hold it up vertical, even turn it upside down, and it still runs great. I’ll get it on the runway start to taxi, give it slow gradual throttle till it’s full throttle, ready to lift off and the engine dies.
Sometimes I will get it off the ground and start to climb and it dies in the air. take it back home, put it on the bench, and wouldn’t you know it , runs great again. Can anyone give me some insight on what the problem is ? Or does this thing need a decent burial ? It’s driving me nuts!!!
Most likely the problem with your LA-40 is not the engine’s fault. So please, don’t bury it yet.
The engine runs well on the bench, 2-3 minute idle without slowing or speeding up? (If it slows, lean the idle mixture and if it gains rpms, richen it.) The engine also transitions to high speed without hesitation? It even runs well when holding the plane vertically?
First, make sure the high-speed needle is not set too lean. If the engine is broken in, the H.S. needle should be set so that the running rpm is at least 500 rpm lower than the peak, or highest, rpm the engine can turn your propeller.
If the engine performs well and is not set too lean, the problem must lie in the on-board fuel system. First, check that the tank clunk is not touching the back of the fuel tank. If it does, enough fuel cannot enter the fuel line to keep the engine running at high speed while under acceleration.
If that is OK, there may be a small air hole, right by the stopper, in the tank pickup line. When totally full, this hole is covered. As soon as the plane accelerates, the hole is uncovered and no fuel flows.
Check the tank position. The tank must be no more than 4-5 inches behind the engine. In addition, the tank’s centerline should be 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. BELOW the needle valve. If the tank is too low, fuel will not “climb the hill” under full acceleration. If too high, the engine must be leaned to compensate for the high tank pressure and will quit lean in the vertical or under acceleration.
Holding a model vertically to check fuel flow is a time-honored tradition that usually works. However, just holding vertically cannot simulate the acceleration effect which forces the fuel to the back of the tank and makes fuel “suction” even more difficult than just gravity.