Gilman Springs US Scale Masters RC Airplane Contest Qualifier 2016

All Hail Scale!

Obviously, I’m a scale nut!  I think it seriously runs in my blood.  I actually cut myself once and started bleeding Federal Standard color chips! 😉   In all seriousness, the big scale projects I build, I’m always building with scale contests in mind…it’s kind of a sickness.  When I found out that the US Scale Master’s (USSM) championships are once again being hosted by the Woodland-Davis Aeromodelers this year, I knew that this year was a contest year for me!  You see, I had attended the championships in 2013 at Woodland-Davis and had an absolute blast and have been hoping for a chance to go back and fly with them again!

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April 23-24, the Gilman Springs RC flyers hosted the USSM Western Regional Qualifier.  This is a new home for this event as years previously it had been hosted by the Hemet Model Masters.  The Gilman Springs venue is great for flying since it’s on private land and has minimal limitations for airspace and aircraft type that can fly out there (rare for sites Continue reading

Kit Bashing 101 Ep1 — Freewing Mirage 2000 Assembly & Flight Review

Mmmmm, Deltas…

It’s no secret, I love deltas!  The Mirage, Kfir and Skyray are some of my favorites if you couldn’t tell from my builds and the aircraft in my hangar.  There’s just something about the look of a delta wing that is so wicked in the air, especially with the addition of canards like the Kfir.  So, when I received a Freewing Mirage 2000 as a gift this last Christmas, I was stoked!  I had been eyeing them for a while, especially after all of the fun I’d been having with the Freewing F-14.  Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, so we will actually be spending a few articles covering the transformation of this Freewing Mirage 2000 into an IAI Kfir…yes, you read that right! 😉  So, consider this as our first installment of “Foam Kit Bashing 101” as we work toward transforming this Mirage 2000 into the wicked looking Kfir.  However, before tearing into a full kit bash, I wanted to discuss how this airplane assembles and performs stock out of the box.

The nice thing with these Freewing jets is that they are an all inclusive package.  The full power system, retracts, and servos come fully installed and at $299 for the Mirage 2000 it’s a pretty killer deal.  They’re EPO foam which I do have a love/hate relationship with, but none the less you get a pretty cool airplane and they are a great canvas to do fun things with (which we’ll start next in our next installment).  They’re fully finished and Continue reading

Freewing F-14 Tomcat Setup & Flight Review

It’s time to buzz the tower…If there was one…

Freewing F-14 Tomcat Flight Review and Setup

So, how does the Freewing F-14 Tomcat fly?  In short, pretty darn awesome!  The distinguishable shape of the F-14 looks menacing in the air and the flight characteristics are fantastic.  As discussed in my assembly review of the airplane, there are some tricks I’d highly recommend in setting the airplane up which at the end of the day, provide a great flying airplane.  This comes from not just flying this particular airplane, but also flying the Freewing production prototype (stock and tailerons only) as well as the twin 70mm F-14 I helped design, test, and fly for my folks at JetHangar.com.  They have all exhibited similar characteristics and fly very much the same.

AIRCRAFT SETUP & CG

f14-cgIn my assembly review, I covered the installation of two 6s 30C 5800 mah batteries that I’m using in the airplane.  To maintain the CG, the battery area was modified so that the batteries could be pushed as far back as possible up against the swing wing carry through spar.  This maintained the CG well per the manual (87mm measured back from the leading edge of the forward most hatch cut on the overwing fairing hatch) which has shown to be about perfect!  Also the manual provides a trim elevator setting (31mm measured Continue reading

Freewing F-14 Tomcat Assembly Review

Bogey on our six, he’s got tone!…oh wait, my phone’s ringing…

Note that my Setup & Flight Review article/video that discusses in detail my control setup is available here.

The F-14 Tomcat is without a doubt one of my top 5 favorite jets.  Honestly, as a kid, I dreamed of flying them.  I would guess, anyone who has enjoyed the movie “Top Gun” probably had the same dream? — Fun fact: my dad and his company Jet Hangar Hobbies built the models that were used for the special effects in the movie “Top Gun” —  For me, I just love the design of the Tomcat.  Something about the shape combined with the variable geometry wing and sheer power of the twin turbines just bleeds awesome.  So, when I caught wind of the Freewing F-14 80mm EDF foam jet I was honestly intrigued.  I remained on the fence until I had the opportunity to fly the production prototype at the Big Jolt.  I subsequently had the opportunity to then take that airplane with me to demo at the AZ jet rally as well.  That’s what sealed it for me and so, in a moment of weakness I saw that they showed in stock at MotionRC, and I went for it!  At $580, you get quite a bit of airplane (full airframe with ALL electronics, including fans, motors, and ESCs) for the money that’s overall pretty well done.

F-14-2Truth be told, I don’t normally deal in foam.  I very much enjoy building and my preferred mediums are the traditional balsa wood and fiberglass.  In fact, back in the early 2000’s, I helped to design and bring to market a twin 70mm EDF laser cut all built up F-14 Tomcat kit (Matt Halton design) for my folks at Jet Hangar Hobbies (pics below).  It flew awesome, even with the limited electric tech that existed at that time (the maiden flight was performed with NiMh round cells!) which was right as Continue reading

Arizona RC Jet Rally 2015

Jets, Jets, JETS!!

In case you couldn’t tell, I love RC jets.  I suppose that comes from a combination of a secret desire I have always had to have been a military fighter pilot (my eyes went bad in Jr High, so ended that dream which led my trajectory towards engineering) and growing up watching my dad fly RC jets most every weekend.  He was one of the early pioneers of RC jets helping to make common place ducted fan and later turbine powered scale jets.  In fact, he was one of the first 10 to even hold a turbine waiver in the US.  So I suppose it’s a family passion that runs multiple generations, haha!

The Arizona RC Jet Rally

AZJR15----Pano

When it comes to events, the Arizona Jet Rally is probably mine and my Dad’s favorite event of the year.  My dad has not missed this event in it’s entire 27 year run thus far!  Always held on the weekending before Thanksgiving and hosted at Superstition Air Park in Mesa, AZ by the Arizona Model Aviators, the event is Continue reading

Big Jolt 2015 Electric Model Airplane Event

Big Jolt 2015 Post Game Report

If you’ve never been to an all electric model airplane event, it’s an experience.  These type of events bring all sorts of different kinds of modelers ranging from guys who love pure scale (like myself) to others who just love to build atypical type models that you wouldn’t even expect to see fly let alone built, but it’s awesome and always unique.  Of course, you still get the range of 3D fliers too, but most importantly, you get a bunch of folks sharing what they love and having a good time which is always the sign of a good event.

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Big Jolt is a Southern California event that’s been going for the last few years and has been a pretty popular electric model airplane fly-in.  Though not an event I’ve been a regular attendee of the last few years, I decided to go this year and I’m glad I did.  Unfortunately the numbers were down from years past but there was still plenty of fun to be had!  Hosted by PVMAC in Chino, CA, it’s an immaculate field with a huge 800 ft runway (same location as Wings Over Prado from earlier this year) so it’s always worth the drive!

What struck me this year was the variety of aircraft that Continue reading

Sphero BB8 Review – A Star Wars Treasure

THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE…

Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens opens next month and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.  One of the cool things about it is that they’ve taken a more traditional approach on the effects that relies less on CGI.  Keeping in the spirit of this, a new droid was developed for the movie known as BB8.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a spherical gyro stabilized droid with a floating head on top of its spherical body — I anticipate it will be the new R2D2.  What’s cool is that they physically built a working vehicle of BB8 for the movie which is not only awesome, but is also quite an ingenious engineering accomplishment.

So, enter the Sphero BB8 app enabled droid.  This became available during “Force Friday” along with all of the new Star Wars toys and quickly sold out in the matter of hours.  When I became aware of it, I knew that I wanted one and thought it would be a fun piece of hardware to provide a review of.  Since “Force Friday,” it’s become Continue reading

Miramar Air Show 2015

THE MIRAMAR AIR SHOW — ALWAYS A GOOD TIME!

Labeled as one of the largest air show in the country, the Miramar Air Show is a must see if you’re ever able to make a trip to San Diego and see it.  It is an awesome combination of static displays and incredible flying from some of the best pilots and air show teams in the world.  Also, being a military air show it always features the latest and greatest technology (the last couple years they’ve featured the F-35B).  As a kid, I spent numerous weekends at this air show and so it always brings back memories.  Growing up, my dad was invited to fly for many years as part of the RC demonstration — I even flew as a part of it too.  In fact, I used to fly a duet formation flight with another Chris not much older than I was.  Believe it or not, I can even remember attending the air show when the Blue Angels were still flying A-4s!  But, I digress.  The air show is something that I love not only for the aviation aspect but also for the nostalgia, the reminder of walking the same show I did as a kid while now also being able to share that experience with my own kids.

miramar-airshow-BA19

Friday was the day I was able to make it (a day off work for an air show?  Heck yes! 😉 ).  The goal is always to be up early and out the door to make a complete day of it.  I arrived to the sound of Sean D. Tucker flying heavy aerobatics (if you’ve never seen him fly, he is an incredible pilot, I have video below) and quickly parked and hopped on the tram to the show.  I spent most of the morning walking the static displays before Continue reading