The Top Gun Invitational scale model competition is an event that I’ve been wanting to witness for a long time. In fact, it’s an event I hope to compete in some year (once I have the right airplane!). Many of the airplanes and pilots competing there represent some of the best in the world, so it’s hard not to want to try my hand in that setting. So, every year when the event comes around, it just happens to get mentioned in my house. So, when it was mentioned this year and met with a, “do you want to go?!” I quickly responded, “YES!” It wasn’t a trip to compete, and that was completely fine with me as I just wanted to witness the competition and the caliber of airplanes that are brought. Plus, you know, it would be a scouting mission for next time… 😉
Held at Paradise Field in Lakeland, Florida, this year was the 30th annual for the competition and some of the models there were nothing short of spectacular. Individuals and teams from all over the world came to fight for the title and represented themselves well. For me, it was a trip to capture media and understand the competition and just take it all in. To be able to witness some of the Continue reading →
You never know who you will meet in this hobby. Though, you’re not likely to meet a celebrity, what you do get are opportunities to meet the amazing men and women who flew the iron that we so passionately model. Model aviation truly is a gateway into full scale aviation and for many, has been a vehicle that has influenced so many careers. This was the case for me and I know has been for so many others. It’s something that is extensible to anyone willing to try and really fosters a community atmosphere for those who participate. For me, flying scale gives me a chance to fly airplanes that I would otherwise never have the opportunities to fly in some form while also allow me to appreciate fully the beauty in the design. It is also a way to celebrate the amazing aviation history and achievements of those who have risked their lives countless times throughout that history.
An Unexpected Visit
So, about two months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of Bob Forbes as he was looking for a little help in getting an airplane flown that he had commissioned. Little did I know was that Bob was a retired Fire Bomber pilot who flew for TBM Inc. which was the company that owned and operated a fleet of F7F Tigercat Fire Bombers (along with C-2 Trackers and other aircraft). I should point out that with every Tigercat that’s careened my workbench I have long drooled over the paint schemes of these Fire Bombers countless times as I absolutely love them!
Bob arrived at my house on a Sunday afternoon for me to take a look at the airplane that he had someone build for him. As he pulled the airplane from his truck, I started to understand. Bob had a FlightLineRC F7F Tigercat refinish commissioned by Bob Vanderveen in Ramona and he was looking for some help getting it flown. As weContinue reading →
Welcome back guys! This month we’ve got an exciting sneak peek review for you guys this week. A few weeks back, I had a large white and rather unassuming box arrive on my front door step. Inside was the brand new Avios Grand Tundra from Hobbyking! Excited at the opportunity to give the airplane a try, I was blown away by just how fun this airplane is, especially with those big ballooney Chuck Norris tires. They’re so big and awesome, the earth doesn’t push up on those tires, those tires push the earth down as they impale the runway into submission!
This airplane is ideal for some backwoods bush flying from an unimproved surface and when the airplane arrive, I knew the perfect field to give it a try! I had recently discovered a dirt RC field nearby my house which I knew would be perfect for the airplane.
Opening the box, the airplane is nicely packaged and looks good as there are a number of parts and they are all packaged well. One of the things I really noticed was as Continue reading →
I keep telling myself to scale back on the foam airplanes, but when the Freewing A-4 Skyhawk came up on pre-sale, I knew I had to have one! The A-4 is a classic design that I’ve always appreciated. In fact, I still remember seeing the Blue Angels fly A-4s back in the 80’s. It was such an agile yet graceful airplane to watch fly, they will probably always be my favorite Blue Angel aircraft. The F-18s have brute force, but it just doesn’t have the grace and maneuverability that the A-4 did.
If you follow this page on Facebook or Instagram, then you know how this one ends for me. For those who and for full disclosure up front, this airplane flies really well when setup right, but I actually crashed the airplane twice in the process of making this review…mostly a result of my own error. The first time was due to installing an already flown battery into the airplane. It only took a couple laps before the fan quit and of course it was too low to get back to the runway. Bummed, but not to be defeated the airplane was refinished with a few upgrades (which we’ll talk about). It came out beautiful, I loved it! Unfortunately, the CG moved further back than I anticipated and the airplane over rotated on the second takeoff and I didn’t have enough altitude to fully recover. It’s fixable, though I’ve debated just buying a replacement instead…it’s currently hanging in my shop waiting in limbo.
With that being said, I still wanted to provide this review because as I mentioned, the airplane flies really well. But, it’s an A-4 and there definitely some things to be aware of when setting it up for best success.
AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES
The A-4 is a quick assembly requiring the aft fuselage section be glued on and then the dorsal, horizontal tails and wings bolted onto the airframe. From there, it’s just a matter Continue reading →
Another year, and another AMA West Expo show! Catching up with old friends and seeing what’s new is always the name of the game and there was certainly plenty of that! The big news this year was that the expo will be held in a new location next year (which will actually be this November), the Pomona Fair Grounds (promo vid at the end of this article). This should be a nice change for the show as it will allow significantly more outdoor activities including flying, racing and all that other good stuff that we can only get limited doses of in Ontario. For the show itself, there was a nice assortment of vendors as there always is, but there seems to be a bit of turnover in the hobby right now. Some of the old stand-by vendors and shops don’t seem to be standing by as much as they used to and newer vendors seem to come and go. Hopefully this new location will help re-invigorate things a bit and bring in some additional interest and vendors!
For me this year, I was only able to make it on the Saturday so I setup shop with a couple airplanes on display in the Scale Squadron booth. I didn’t think the bring Lady Alice last year, so I brought it along with our kit bashed Kfir which fit well within the booth. There was also on hand an absolutely gorgeously built F3D Skynight in work by Rob Han (his own design). I’ve known Rob for a long time and he has always done some really ingenious work. He actually plans to run the airplane with a geared glow engine driving two ducted fans. I of course told him EDF would be far simpler! 😉
Some of the “new stuff” highlights included getting a sneak peak at Horizon Hobbies’ Continue reading →
Happy New Year everyone! I never thought I’d end up writing about a Lego build, but when I saw the Lego Saturn V rocket kit in my kids’ Lego catalog, I knew that I had to have one. So, I thought it would be fun to do a little video and article in the process. That’s not to mention an afternoon spent building Legos with my son; talk about like the perfect day! This kit seems to sell out rather quickly, and I actually had a couple failed attempts to locate one. However, I was lucky enough to find one just in time for Christmas (it was a Christmas miracle! 😉 )! Lego really does some incredible models these days and my son (the Lego expert in the family) is all about it. Lego didn’t have the licensing deals when I was a kid that they do now and the models that they create these days as a result are just awesome. If you’ve not seen their special edition Millennium Falcon kit, it is their largest and most expensive set ever and it is amazing!
Being an aerospace engineer, I’ve always had a fascination with the Saturn V. It still is the largest and heaviest rocket that has ever been launched into space and it was done in a time where the first computers were only just starting. I remember building an Estes Saturn V kit with a family friend when I was a kid. It used a single D sized motor and had so much mass behind it, it launched much like the real thing off the launch pad.
The Lego Saturn V kit itself comes in a big box (labeled for ages 14+…I barely made it!) that has someContinue reading →
The Best in the West Jet Rally if I had to guess, is one of the largest RC Jet gatherings on the west coast. Held at the Elk Hills-Buttonwillow airport with regularly over 100+ registered pilots, the result is 5 straight days of non-stop jet flying from a measly 3200+ ft long runway. Plus, being held in early October in Southern California means that the weather is usually just about perfect (and it was this year!).
It had been a few years since my last visit to this event. I had actually attempted to get there last year (even paid my entry), but wasn’t able to work it out based on the proximity of the dates to the US Scale Masters Championships. So, when the event came around again this year, I knew that I wanted to get out there. The cool thing was, my dad decided to come with me and so it was a great weekend spent flying jets with my hero! That really made the weekend that much more memorable and fun.
There’s always a nice assortment of airplanes at the event ranging from sport jets to scale. And they all typically have one common theme…BIG! In years past, I remembered there being notably more sport jets than scale jets. However, my observation this year was that sport jets were far less prevalent and scale jets reigned supreme! For this scale geek, it was nice to see and there were some absolutelyContinue reading →
Welcome to the final episode in our foam kit bashing series! It was quite the journey getting here and I actually didn’t intend on it taking as long as it has to document the whole series, but life has been crazy with no signs of slowing down it seems (plus, I just started a new position at work!). If you’ve just found this series, we have gone through and completely transformed a Freewing Mirage 2000 into an Isreali Kfir. As a part of that, we covered the transformation process talking through the building methods in converting the airplane using balsa wood and foam, we’ve talked about painting and finishing and we’ve also covered how to make panel lines and add realistic weathering. I hope that you guys have enjoyed the series and are geared up with some new techniques to try on your models! To finish this series up, I thought it would be best done providing a little discussion on how the airplane flies in it’s new form as well as some of the things that were done in wrapping the airplane up and getting it tuned in the air. Also, I had a little incident with the airplane at the Warbirds & Classics event which tore out the right main landing gear mount. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity, now that we have this nice new airplane, to show how to make cosmetic repairs when they are needed as well.
In doing all of the final setup for the airplane, I didn’t want to change too many things all at once since the airplane flew well in the Mirage 2000 configuration. I knew however that I did want to change out the radio. Airtronics has been my go-to radio for quite literally, decades (even had a sponsorship with them). Though a good radio, it’s a system that’s just not supported in the US anymore and frankly, SANWA/Airtronics gave up on the airplane market years ago anyway.