View Full Version : First flight report (long, with small pix)

Jeremy Z
10-14-2005, 06:35 AM
So the T-Hawk came in the mail today. I cut out of work early to come home and build it. The conditions were perfect, with only a tiny bit of wind. (2 mph maybe?) I put the plane together, everything went pretty smoothly. I noticed that the vertical stabilizer was not quite perpindicular to the wing. But since it's glued as it is, there wasn't much I could do about it. (bad move, as it turns out)

I adjusted the kinks in the control rods until the elevator & rudder were straight. By the time I finished things up, and double-checked everything, the first battery was charged.

I read the flight instructions, which said about what I'd expected them to say. They said, basically: "Get help if you can, from an experienced flyer. If you can't, here's how you should practice: Launch the plane from a hard, flat surface with full up elevator and full throttle, into the wind. When you get off the ground, release some elevator, but continue at full throttle and gently steer it in circles until you're about 200 ft. high. Then, cut the power and glide downward. When you're about 30 ft. from the ground give it full throttle and climb up to 200 ft. again and repeat."

So I went over in my head how things were supposed to work. I have to say that I think I did damn well for my first flight. I'd guess it was about a minute long. (which seemed like forever, as my heart was pounding like mad!) I got very nervous and forgot much of what I had intended to remember. I gave too much control input too fast, but corrected myself several times. Eventually, I got it to a point where I couldn't tell if it was flying toward or away from me, (at about 40') mixed something up, and plummeted into the dirt at full throttle. (I had tried to give it full throttle, then up elevator, but it was too late.) So now the comments about altitude being my best friend really make sense. In retrospect, it would turn much quick the one direction than the other. (an artifact of the slightly-crooked horizontal stabilizer, I bet)

Damage? Not much. The wing had shifted a bit, but that was about all I could see.

Take two. Same sort of thing, but somehow, it ended up on its back this time. The flight was much shorter duration, and it didn't steer well. I think I must've knocked the horizontal stabilizer a bit the first time, as this time it wouldn't turn one direction. It would either circle right gently, or roll right. For some reason, none of what was happening really sank in until the third flight & crash.

Take three. Much shorter flight, probably about 15 seconds. The only good to come out of this flight was that I successfully hand-launched it. (I was getting a better feel for the plane towards the end) I didn't have much control, but was able to keep it in the grass at least. (football field sized field) This time, I crashed it on the side of a hill, again, it wound up upside-down. The vertical stabilizer was broken off. "OK, that's it for today." Says I. Time to go home, lick my wounds, and digest what happened.

This first pic. shows the hole ripped out of the bottom of the vertical stabilizer:

As we speak, the epoxy is setting up on that wound.

Remember how earlier I said that the tail was slightly misaligned with the wing? Well now (after three nasty crashes) the huge ugly blob of brown glue inside the fuselage has loosened up a bit to where the tail shaft can rotate a few degrees in either direction. So I put the wing back on and was able to line it up perfectly. I cut the heat-shrink tubing off of the tail rod, roughed up the tail rod and body surface with sandpaper, the epoxied that where it should've been to begin with. (kicking myself)

Here's a shot of that little mend:

Next, I noticed some damage was done to the motor mount. No props were broken, and the prop didn't cut into the wing at all, but the mounting plate was pulled in a bit, and the corners were a bit dented. (I don't know how)

Here's a shot of that little bit:

Here's a shot of some mud that has made its way into the sonic weld on the nose of the fuselage during my "rough landings". As it turns out, the landing gear was only needed for takeoff.

Here's a shot of my kitchen, the repair hanger after the carnage:

You can see the batterys, charger, radio, and some tools on the kitchen counter. Lucky me, for having an understanding wife who can laugh at the situation.

Yes, the whole kitchen table is reserved too:

I have learned a lot from my first 20 minutes in the field.

It sucks to crash. It just breaks your heart every time, but probably less so on an inexpensive plane.
I should have listened, signed up for AMA, and waited patiently until I could get an instructor. (although he wouldn't have been able to buddy-box with me) It is just so much easier to say this as an experienced flyer than to do it as an anxious newb.
I had convinced myself that my hand-eye coordination from video games in my youth would help me out and I would maybe be done crashing by the time I got through my second pack. Well, I think my hand-eye coordination kept me up in the air longer than someone else might have, but didn't save me from crashing. (sigh)
This plane has plenty of power for a trainer, and probably enough to keep me entertained for a good while afterwards.
This plane is as durable as its reputation led me to believe. Had I crashed a Slo-Stik like this, it would have been lights-out after the first one, with a busted prop & motor shaft.
It is time to find an experienced flyer, if not necessarily an instructor, to teach me the ropes. I know a guy at work who has been flying for many years who has volunteered to help. He lives 40 miles away, which is a bummer, but I can't stand the heartbreak of nose-diving that pretty orange bird any more. I hope we can do the old-fashioned training where he would launch it, get it trimmed in, and hand me the sticks. If I get in trouble, he would take over again and save me. Until I'm good enough to take off and land by msyelf, at least.
There's also a guy in my subdivision who flies, and has his garage walls covered with fuselages & wings. He volunteered to help me last summer, but I had forgotten about it until my wife mentioned it.
I'll probably sign up for the AMA & bite the bullet. What is it, like $45 or so? The guys who are willing to help me will probably want to fly at a sanctioned field, and I will need AMA I suppose. I was going to try to save the money, but I suppose it will probably break even if I don't need to buy so many parts.
I'm going to do the cable tie mod. to save the motor from pulling into the fuselage any more, in case I crash again.Thanks for all the tips guys. I'm going to download the flight sim tomorrow first thing at work. (too slow with dialup here at home) I'll bring it back home on my flash drive and install it here. Do I guess I should also get a joystick for my PC too? (that's the main reason I didn't get it sooner. Penny wise, pound foolish)

Lastly, I decided to glue a neck strap "ring" on my cheapie radio, to make the hand launches easier and flying more comfortable in the future. Again, epoxy came to the rescue. I roughed up the plastic enclosure of the radio with sandpaper and found this spring from a clip that holds potato chip bags shut. It bent into shape easily enough. I hope it holds! 5 minute epoxy is pretty fantastic stuff, so I think it will:

If you're curious what the LEDs do, they both light up brightly when the power is on with good batts. As the batts die, the green LED gets dimmer and dimmer. When it is noticeably dimmer than the red one, it's time to come down and change batteries in the transmitter. Below the LEDs is the power switch. Next to the crystal are the servo reverse switches. In the photo, it is set up "normal". Back pulls up, left goes left, etc.

I noticed that the receiver and power lead that had been attached to the inside of the fuselage had come loose. There were only on with double-stick tape. (admittedly, it would hold fine if the pilot were better)

Other newbs: If at all possible, resist the temptation to teach yourself. Patience will save your poor plane some knocks. If you just can't wait (like me) get to a BIG field. The thing that killed me the most was putting too much stick too suddenly. That, and make sure you plane is perfectly set up ahead of time. You probably won't have to worry about crashing if you can get an experienced guy to teach you, but that doesn't lend itself to soccer field flights in your spare time...

Experienced guys: Don't get too mad that us newbs keep trying to impatiently teach ourselves. I think it is just human nature. All you can do is try your best to be helpful, say the right things. After that, all you can do is shrug. We are the ones who crash our birds and pay the piper in the end. (and regret not following your advice)

Thanks again for all the helpful advice.


10-14-2005, 08:04 AM
Answer: Because I was bored and this forum makes it so easy to exploit others.

Question: Why yank everyones chain in multiple threads and ignore the suggestions?

10-14-2005, 01:53 PM
Quite interesting report from Smaug. 2 months ago I bought an Alpha trainer .40 RTF, joined a club and got 7 flights with an instructor. Since I can fly only a half day per week, 2 months is a long time to wait the right combination of good weather/instructor presence/time to fly. So I bought a Slo-V which I soloed right of the box, outdoor last week. I broke and repaired the motor mount when the plane knocked at my neighbor`s door and in about 10 flights I never succeed to make good landings on the grass. Since I flew full size planes for 10 years (1976-1986) and practiced a lot on the Alpha sim, yesterday I got a free afternoon and strong urge to fly the Alpha by myself at our club grass runway. Well, the flight was good but the landing was off runway by a mere 5 or 6 feet, thanks to a 10 mph crosswind, right in a ditch! I now have the right wing to repair...a fellow RCer telling me that repairing/modifying was as much fun as flying. By the way, I intend to convert my .40 nitro Alpha to E-power, I hate to clean the oily mess after each flying session. I will fly the Slo-V as much as I can to participate in indoor flying in a few weeks.

Jeremy Z
10-14-2005, 03:43 PM
Answer: Because I was bored and this forum makes it so easy to exploit others.

Question: Why yank everyones chain in multiple threads and ignore the suggestions?

Why are you so angry? If this sort of thing is so frustrating to you, you shouldn't hang around in the beginner's forum. I'm sure I'm not the first one, and I won't be the last one who just HAS to buy & fly, rather than buy, pay, wait, and fly. The temptation is just too great.

Obviously, I'm not yanking everyones' chains, as I put quite a lot of time & energy into my posts. (taking & hosting photos, typing long messages, etc.) I'm sorry you feel exploited, aeropal. I'm sorry to have wasted the huge amounts of time you put into your replies/advice.

I am friendly to everyone, and I don't insult them when they don't follow my advice. I listened to everyones' advice, considered it and made my own decision. I have to live with the consequences.

As someone once said on another forum. (shooting, I think) "If you want to be frustrated, go play golf."


P.S. - I am following your advice, by the way. Didn't you catch the part where I said I'm going to download the simulator today?

P.P.S. - Now that I look this over, I feel as if MY chain has been yanked, hehehe. But I'm not angry, aeropal. We're supposed to be having fun & learning here.

10-26-2005, 03:53 PM
I have a few thoughts here. I am helping a guy I work with learn to fly that same plane. That thing flies 100% better without the landing gear on it - take it off and hand launch it. Try to use as little epoxy as possible in your repairs - the plane gets heavy fast. Only use the correct # rubber bands and get them at an office store not a hobby shop. The office store kind break easier and save damage on impact not to mention you can get a lot more of them for much less $$

10-26-2005, 08:48 PM
ahhh yes...i know this story all too well.

despite all the advice and tuteledge, the eager beginner cant resist.

not to worry, it is a lesson learnt and now makes all the other posts even more valuable and shows how relevant they are.

the main thing is not to let it get you down. ALOT of people give up after that first bad experience. In fact it may be that you have two, or even three (heaven forbid) planes that crash relatively early in their lifespans before you come out of it.

the best way, as you know, to do this is to have someone help- physically.

what all of us know though, is how exhilerating this hobby is and what fun it can be.....so keep that in mind and know what you can look forward to.


10-26-2005, 08:52 PM
(an artifact of the slightly-crooked horizontal stabilizer, I bet)
Thanks again for all the helpful advice.


interesting....i dont have one of these kits, and they are normally straight, but could it be that the motor torque is causing a better turn one way than the other, and in fact the bent stab correcting this?

just a thought.


10-27-2005, 12:56 AM

Heck with all the advice. Go ahead and fly it by yourself at first -- just ignore the somewhat complicated instructions that come with the plane (they are sort of a good idea, but just not at the beginning).

You've already got the first good hint: if you have a grass field, take the wheels off. It will 'slide into first' just fine. If you don't have a grass field, find one.

Second hint: don't turn it. Really! Hand launch it and let it fly maybe 20 yards straight out. Cut the motor. Glide it in. Walk over to it and bring it back to the same spot (you are launching into the wind, right?) and do it again. Knowing you can land, and how to do it, is the most important thing at this point. If you freak out, cut the motor and land. Always. Every time.

This is incredibly tiresome, but extremely good at building confidence. The walking brings you back down again, and the T-Hawk will survive anything you can do.

You'll eventually get tired of this, but hold on as long as you can, until you're thinking "I have this so cold it's silly." Then try a turn.

When that time comes, turn only in one direction at first. Left may work better for you. As soon as you get it up in the air and flying nice and straight, try to bring it around, fly downwind, turn it, then glide to a landing near yourself.

You'll find turning across the wind requires a bit more power than cruising, and probably a little up elevator. You'll also need a bit of power running with the wind. Coming around on the second turn may be erratic, as it bites back into the wind.

Land it somewhere near yourself.

Stop and think about what went right (or wrong) and what you're going to do on your next circuit. Then do it.

Over and over.

For extra points, if you get through all this, try going around in the opposite direction.

The idea behind only turning one way (at first) is to avoid the raw panic that will eventually happen when you're flying toward yourself and realize the plane goes "the other way." Don't push that issue until you can take off, circle, and land. Easily.

Besides, when you see the ground-effect glide of the T-Hawk and the nice little slide at landing, you'll enjoy the heck out of it.

Dave "been there, miss that" North

10-27-2005, 01:10 AM
I agree...go ahead and fly that thing! I taught myself to fly and although I'm SURE that having an instructor would have been more economical in terms of the fly-crash-repair cycles, I've learned a hell of a lot about flying and keeping my planes in the air.

10-27-2005, 02:30 AM
I agree...go ahead and fly that thing! I taught myself to fly and although I'm SURE that having an instructor would have been more economical in terms of the fly-crash-repair cycles, I've learned a hell of a lot about flying and keeping my planes in the air.

My feelings exactly. Been there done that many times back in '68. No one around to assist me, so I had to do it all by my lonesome. It only took me nine models before I was able to take one back home in one piece!

Single channel radio (rudder only), mind you.

Keep trying, you'll master it. Today's radios are more reliable, models are more resilient and cheaper too.