Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Your First Model

Choosing your first model is important. Go for one that's too tricky and you could easily get put off the whole "aeromodelling thing". On the other hand, the model needs to have enough potential for performance to keep you interested and challenged.

If you have a reasonable ability to throw, the best starting point for a fledgling free flight modeller is the hand launched glider or "HLG". In this category, the aim is to keep your model up as long as possible. Usually, maximum points are scored for a flight of 60 seconds (a "max").

It took me a few months to achieve that magic first ever max. I remember it well - Although it was a pleasant evening, it was not the perfect day for flying - which would be a day with light wind and hot sunshine. I did it first with a 17" glider and then a few minutes later with a 12" span glider. Since then, I've done it with gliders as small as 8" and 6" span. A great warm feeling all over....

In competitions, you normally get a number of launches e.g. 6 or 9. Also, in many competitions, your flight will not be counted if you land within 10 seconds, provided the next flight is over 10 seconds!

HLG is a great starting point to learn about trimming (the art of getting your model to fly really well). I would recommend a smaller span glider initially, because such models:

  • have less momentum so are not so easily broken by the inevitable "handshake" with the ground
  • are quicker to build.

Both these count towards more fun for less expended time and effort!

If you are doubtful about your throwing arm, then the alternative recommendations for a first model are catapult launch glider ("CLG") or a simple rubber-powered model. (There is also Discus Launched Glider - which is thrown in a discus spinning style, rather than the common javelin style like HLG. At this time, DLG is an relatively new area of exciting development in free flight aeromodelling. However, I would not recommend it for a first model, mainly because: the model needs to be very well designed and built to withstand the high forces and strains put on it during launch, launching consistently is difficult and trimming a DLG is trickier than a traditional HLG).

Next: recommended reading and sources for model aircraft plans....

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