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Hi-Performance and Sailplanes RC hotliners, electric pylon racers, F5B, F5D, sailplanes and gliders

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Old 11-18-2012, 03:44 PM   #76
Ochroma Pyramidale Tekton
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Patterns are fine for aerobats that never get so far away you can't see them clearly. But useless once the plane gets small. Solid colors also, as they have to have light reflected off them to see their color, and there is just not a lot of light shining on the underside of a wing. Transparent colors will show up longer because the light shows through them from above. This is one of the reasons a lot of sailplanes have transparent coverings; it's not just to show off the skeleton. I have also seen many sailers that have each wing a different color for the same reason; it helps with orientation when the plane is so far away it's just a multicolored dot in the sky. Even then it don't mean squat when the plane is a point in the sky.

Another point to consider is that everyone is diferent. Your eyes, and the way your brain interperates the signals from them will make some colors/combinations more visible too you than others. My sugestion? Make some cardboard cutouts, paint them in diferent colors or combinations of colors and place then against a wall that simulates the sky and stand further and further back until there is only one left you can see clearly. That's the color or combination you want to use.

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Edit: Reflective or prismatic tapes are retroreflective, meaning they are designed to shine the as much of the light as possible back in the direction it came from. So unless the sun is directly behind you their use is actually counter-productive.

My Skimmer has a gold-red color change covering on the top, but that's just for "ground appeal". I can't see the top of the bird when it's in the air above me anyway so I could care less what color it is then. The underside/back of this covering however is black, so I covered the underside of the wings with clear, as in no color, so the black backside of the top covering showes through the ribs to make the underside of the wings black, contrasting with the gold/red top for orientation when the plane is closer to ground level.

For front/rear orientation I have a strip of polished gold over the LE. Since this is basicaly a curved miror it wil shine in all directions - not just back at the source - when the light hits it. So when I see the glint I know the bird is heading towards me.

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