Sunday, November 13, 2011

Aeronautical Distractions

Model railroading has been my main hobby for as long as I can remember, if not longer.  But I do have other hobbies, and occasionally one of them occupies enough time to be a serious distraction from railroading.  Recently that's been the case with radio controlled airplanes.  Specifically, small (about 15 inch wingspan) battery powered electric RC planes.

The aeronautical distractions, bottom to top in order of preference
Of the six micro rc airplanes I've had, five are still flyable and are shown in the above photo.  Micro in this case means they all have a wingspan in the range of about 15 inches.  First was the Parkzone Vapor (center in photo).  With 3 channel control (throttle, rudder and elevator), it makes a good beginner plane.  Very rugged too.  Second was a Parkzone Cessna, a little faster but still 3 channel.  It's not in the above photo, because it had a terminal encounter with a tree.  Third was the Parkzone Sukhoi (top plane in photo), the first micro rc plane with ailerons on the market.  It's "twitchy", and was too much for my abilities at the time.  Ailerons allow for more variety in crashing - cartwheeling turned out to be a specialty.  I got overwhelmed, shelved it and stopped flying for a while.  The fourth plane I got is the Parkzone P-51 (second from top in photo).  Also a 4 channel plane (throttle, rudder, elevator, and ailerons).  It's not twitchy like the Sukhoi.  I learned a lot with it until a tree jumped in front of it and bent the prop shaft.  While waiting for a replacement I bought the T-28.

The bottom two planes in the above photo are my favorites.  The Parkzone micro T-28 (second from bottom), and an E-flite micro Beast (bottom).  The T-28 is a very fun plane to fly.  It's very well behaved, yet still pretty maneuverable - loops, rolls, and other stunts are pretty easy.  Relaxing and fun.  It also has the distinction of being the only micro RC plane I haven't crashed (if you don't count a few bad landings).  The Beast is, well, a beast.  It's the only plane in the bunch to have a brushless motor and a 2 cell (7.4 volt) lipo battery - the others are all single cell.  It's got very large control surfaces.  It goes fast, can turn on a dime, and can roll fast enough so you loose orientation (i.e. you think it's rightside up when it's upside down).  It does exactly what you tell it to do, and has no self correcting tendencies (if you let go of the controls it won't level out).  It can get into a lot of trouble very fast.  If you look closely you'll see the that left top wing has been broken off right at the inside corner of the aileron.  The bottom wing has been broken twice.  The guy wires have been popped off a couple times.  The nose has been mushed in once.  Medium thickness foam safe CA with a kicker can work wonders.  But the wing does have a slight twist to it now that messes up some maneuvers.  It's still in good enough shape to teach me a few more things though.  It is most definitely NOT relaxing to fly (at least at my current skill level), but it is a lot of fun.

To tie this back into model railroading, you'll notice the planes are sitting on the benchwork of the N scale Palmer Industrial Park - in fact they're sitting on Trans Plastics.  That photo was taken after I finished installing and painting the fascia (the subject of the next post I'll write), but before I finished tracing the pounce wheel dents in the foam with black magic marker to make the track plan more visible.

Now that the weather is colder and the wind seems to insist on being too gusty to fly these little planes when it's still light enough to see them, perhaps I'll get back to some more model railroading.

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