2016 Scale Masters Championships

Wait, what just happened?!

The road getting to the 2016 US Scale Masters Championships was not an easy one for me this year, that’s for sure.  Ever since crashing my Jet Hangar Mirage IIIRS last year, I had been plagued with mishaps and bugs throughout the year and truth be told, it got pretty discouraging…to the point that I contemplated not going multiple times.  But, the championships were at the Woodland-Davis Aeromodelers field which is where they were in 2013 and it was such a great event, I knew I had to get there in 2016.  With everything leading up to the event (I even had a mishap requiring repairs two weeks before I was due to leave!), I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be reporting that I came out of the event as the “Grand National Champion” finishing 1st place in Expert!  And to have my dad there calling for me while competing with an airframe that stemmed from the very first RC jet design he kitted back in the late ’70s was just such an honor for me.

champion-father-son

Organized by the US Scale Masters Association, the US Scale Masters Championships have been ongoing since 1980.  From the beginning, this national championship has hosted some of the best scale builders and pilots in the world and have continued to do so for more than two decades.  In order to attend the national championship, a competitor must qualify at a regional qualifier event (I covered the Gilman Springs Qualifier a few months ago).  The truth is, I remember attending numerous qualifiers and championships out at Mile Square Park (that flying site is sorely missed!) in Southern California as a kid with my dad and I have always remembered the caliber of  the airplanes being just incredible (I tried my first qualifier at 18 with a Royal Zero kit I built).  2016 was no exception as the airplanes in attendance were beautifully crafted and masterfully flown! Continue reading

Eleven Hobby F8F Bearcat Assembly & Flight Review

Grumman Iron Works For The WIN!

The Grumman Aircraft Corporation has produced some of the most iconic aircraft of our time (McDonnel-Douglas is another one that comes to mind).  When you think of the numerous aircraft tied to the Grumman name, what really comes to mind are the family of incredible cats they produced starting from the Wildcat all the way through to the Tomcat!  (seriously, these are the kind of cat videos you should be searching for on the internet! ;))  The F8F Bearcat is a proud member of the Grumman cat family and is no exception to greatness.  Designed for pure performance (i.e. climb rate), the airplane is literally the smallest and lightest airframe you could wrap around the largest available engine.  I bet the propulsion group within the company must have been ecstatic!  Consider that it used the same engine as the Hellcat, but with an airframe that was 2000+ lb lighter.

As an aircraft, the Bearcat was a high performance machine having better performance even than some of the early jets.  Though it didn’t quite make it to see combat in World War II, it still remained in service into the early 1960’s with over 1200 total aircraft built.  Now, what you may not know is, that the Bearcat Continue reading

Family Build 2 – Polar Lights Superman, Captain America & Wolverine Builds

Marvel AND DC Comics together…can you even do that?

Since the first Family Build we did, my kids couldn’t wait to do another one!  They kept asking (especially my daughter) to make another vid and build some models.  More building with my kids?  Heck yes!  This time, it’s all geek as a while back, I had come across a plastic kit of one of my favorite comic book characters, Marvel Comics’ “Wolverine” made by Polar Lights/Round2 Models.  Upon investigation, I learned that Polar Lights had a few different characters and so found a Marvel Comics “Captain America” for my daughter (it was fitting since she has a little crush on Cap) and DC Comics’ “Superman” for my son since, based on some of the things he attempts, he must think he’s made of steel!  So, let the build begin!

The kits themselves are all produced by Polar Lights/Round2 Models.  They state no glue required, but the truth is, to have any sort of longevity, glue is a good idea.  In all cases, Continue reading

Family Build – Polar Lights Back to the Future Delorean

A Snap Together BTTF DeLorean?  Great Scott!

I got my start in scale modeling by building plastic models as a kid.  I built many a model in the back of my dad’s shop as far as I can remember.  Those are some of the fondest memories I have from growing up.  I guess that’s why I collect (though rarely build) so many plastic models, haha!  The “Back to the Future” movies are among some of my favorites and a while back I came across the Polar Lights “Back to the Future” DeLorean and seriously, had to have it.  It was a snap together kit, so figured in a few hours I could probably have a nice enough looking model…if I built it…  Well, my son kept asking me to build the model while it sat on my bench and so I figured, why not grab a second one so we could build them together?  I love building with him and he loves to build pretty much anything (he and my daughter are Lego masters!), so it was perfect!  I figured, while we were at it, why not grab the video camera and try a “family build” segment on my YouTube channel.  My kids are always wanting to bomb my videos anyhow, so figured it was time to officially feature them.  Be sure to watch because there’s some pretty funny stuff in there, especially at the very end.   At one point, we were laughing uncontrollably for no reason whatsoever.

The Build

polar-lights-delorean-1So, we set out on our DeLorean build adventure on a Friday mid-morning after flying.  It was hot outside, so was perfect to just take it easy in-doors.  It sure would have been much more pleasant though if we actually had air-conditioning in our house!  We both eagerly started and tore into the box with my daughter offering Continue reading

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!

static_judging

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