A blast from the past
by Dave Bicker
I can imagine that I was in pretty much the same boat as a lot of other hobbyists in deciding to re-visit a dormant hobby during the Covid 19 lock-down period earlier this year.
I was able to keep occupied with things like tending my allotment & I completed the restoration of my 2 1970’s classic motorcycles. I had decided not to re-start work on my old Triumph Herald convertible (that’s been sat un-loved on the driveway for the past 5 years) because of the potential discord that it would cause with my elderly neighbour who is the epitome of “Victor Meldrew”, hating any form of noise or disruption to his retired lifestyle. I guess it must have been a shock when their elderly frail quiet neighbour died & a “young” couple of less than 60 years old moved in!
So the two big coffin-sized reinforced cardboard boxes stored in the loft came to mind. – Why not take up RC again?!
On inspection I found 5 models in the boxes.
Twin Star (the Mk1 version with the one-piece wing & brushed motors), boxed & un-built.
Precedent Electrafly (88” soarer), boxed & part built.
Piranha (Hydra-Foam type model), boxed & un-built. (Purchase receipt date 2004)
Flair Heron (66” sloper), built & in need of restoration.
Slingsby T21 (108” soarer), built & in need of restoration.
Now to step back a moment I’ll go back to the 90’s. My first foray into RC flight was to build a Precedent Electrafly & to teach myself to fly in the middle of winter at Win Green in full motorcycle gear & Deer Stalker cap with snow on the frozen ground. You know – the sort of thing that you do when a new hobby grips you. It resulted in a lot of very short flights, often with the 540 motor still powered on & heading straight for the hard ground as I’d forgotten about the lack of air flow over the surfaces when travelling too slowly down-wind. Many repairs later & with a lot more practice I improved enough to land in the same field!
Anyway about 5 or 6 years later, as the “old” Electrafly was getting very tatty I bought another one & started building it with my 5 years old son helping. Time passed & with other diversions it got put back in the loft – until 2020. So back in the present day I thought that it would be the ideal model to re-acquaint myself with RC flying, but this time I decided to build it as a pure glider. I remember converting the original at some stage & the weight of the model dropped about 30% which greatly improved its wing loading.
The only mod that I have added to the original design is a 1” cubed mini video camera mounted in the nose on a magnetic mount, which gives great results.
After flying it for a matter of weeks I converted it to a 2.4ghz receiver with short aerials, which dispenses with the long trailing aerial wire hanging out of the tail.
It has flown many times without any major incident & with trouble-free landings as well. It is very docile & an ideal trainer, but you can’t do much with it bar cruising around looking for lift or a very big low speed loop without encouraging the wings to clap hands as they are held on the old fashioned way with rubber bands. It flies on the lightest of winds but is still controllable in up to 10-12 mph winds. Any more wind & it can get tricky landing if very turbulent. It’s a built-up boxy model but it does what it says on the tin…
I’ll cover the other models in other articles, so here’s some pictures of the Electrafly. DTB
Dave got in touch about a different subject (of which, more later) and after a very small prompt, agree to do an article - he says:
“My flying started end of the 90's (as a CDMFC member) & after a 15-odd years gap in flying I'm still delighted if I go home with all of my planes undamaged. I have at least got to the stage of landing in the intended field!
I have some old pics of my earlier models from the early days & I can also produce some for the more "recent" ones (like my hydrafoam "Pirahna" that I found the purchase receipt for recently (2004) & finally built during lock-down. I used to write articles for Sloping Off years ago. I remember doing one on my Black Diamond. I'll see if I can gather some thoughts together & send some content in for the mag.
One springs to mind - I recently built an early version Twin Star (with the one-piece wing) & flew it at Win Green. I have since re-worked it with brushless motors & ESC & Li-Po, so there's something to write about.
I don't tend to do much flying as I have a heap of other interests (which is why my flying isn't improving much). So I tend to just slope soar, but I have spectated at SF twice recently too. I live only 10 minutes from Win Green so that's my "local" flying site.”