Monday, December 23, 2013

Phoenix Kicks: HLG Tales from Arizona & Chuck Glider Launching Advice

Russ H, a reader in Phoenix sent me a batch of photos of his gliders. For the first time, he had a go at flying for duration and this is the story. Here's a photo of his Fleet. The 6" ones are Whipper Whizzes, there's a Plain Sailor on the left, the big one is a Bowers 20" Old Timer and on the right a Harry Johnson 14" (plans for which I think you can get from Unsure about the model between the Old Timer and the 14", but I guess it's around 8".

Here is a top view of Russ's Plain Sailor.
For the first time, he had a go at duration flights. Russ said: 

"...Well I finally got out to the park about a week ago to try out the big gliders, It was breezy and I was nervous, which, hurt me on my first attempts with the Plain Sailor and the 14" because I didn't throw them (high enough) hard enough into the wind causing the Plain Sailor to get picked up and tossed backwards but as it tried to right itself it came down on the right wing (on the little concrete walking path of all places) causing it to break. So that was that. Then the 14" I did the same stupid thing but the 14" is so light that when it got swept up and back it turned itself around and glided quite a ways, when it landed, the nose kinda dug into the grass and it flipped over breaking off the rudder. So that was that. Fixed both of them and they're ready to go again."

But that didn't put him off, see further below. (I'm glad he took these photos before he chucked!) 

Then Russ tried launching the 20" Old Timer, and he said:

"After my first two failed attempts, something popped into my head about throwing to the right of the wind. So I tried that but with a harder throw and a baseball type throw, which I didn't do on the first two, But I let it go and it went up and turned to the right then started circling left and landed nicely. That gave me confidence so I started throwing harder and harder. The plane went up coming back over my head upside down and as it got to altitude it right itself and flew beautifully into its left turn. I started getting 20' 25' 30' second flights. Then got one that was 46' seconds causing me to [get rather excited. Ed note: some colourful language edited there!]. Then I almost caught a thermal, As it got to altitude and started its turn it got lifted up as it came back towards me, I realized what it was but it was to late by the time it landed for me to catch it again. I was able to watch where it went because there was a hawk riding it for 10 minutes or so (I'll never get that lucky on finding one again) but it was going towards houses and trees so I didn't chase it."

The strong black and orange colouring would certainly make it stand out against the sky, but I do hope the paint is not too heavy. Weight is the ENEMY!

Some of my comments in reply to his exploits:

"Ha Ha! I know what you've just been through! The thrill of hitting lift never goes away.

When you go again, choose a relatively calm dry day to practice. Plain Sailor isn't really an outdoor duration focussed model. (It's for a single sheet of balsa three-event indoor contest: longest straight glide, spot landing and duration).

The following instructions are for right handed baseball [Javelin] style throwers. Reverse for a left hander. Using gentle glides from the shoulder, trim for a left turn, with a slightly “stally” glide. I usually "breathe and bend" - put your mouth close to stab or rudder and breathe out on it, then gently bend the balsa surface and hold it for a few seconds while it "sets". As you trim, try ever so slightly harder throws levelish from the shoulder and as you release the plane launch with a slight left bank on wings. Try to get it to do full left circles a few feet off the ground like that. Adjust the size of the circle - depends on model span and weather - with rudder and use stab up to keep it floaty and stally. On many models most of the turn comes from stab "tilt" which will be described on the plan, so you won't need much rudder if any for those types. Trimming it for a slightly stally glide *initially* is protection so that when you try full power throws, you don't get a straight up and down "crunchie"! Full power throws are to the right of the wind with a slight right bank. It takes practice to know the angles. I tend to pick a spot in the sky/clouds at 30-45deg angle to horizontal and aim for that. As with most HLGs, avoid throwing with less than full power! Add left rudder if it stalls in the glide, but not too much otherwise it will spiral dive. When properly trimmed, it should transition at the top quickly and start turning nice flat left circles. A thing of beauty when it does that consistently.

Yes, birds, not just hawks, are great indicators of lift, as are fluffy seeds in summer and even the hairs on your legs! Pros use a streamer on a pole up wind of your launch point - a few yards of old video cassette tape works well on top of a cheap collapsible fishing rod."

Here is another photo of some of Russ's Fleet. 

It is really fabulous to hear from people around the world who are discovering the magic of chuck gliders! If my blog has been interesting or useful for folks, then I feel very pleased. Russ, thanks for sharing!

Some of the best things in life are free (or don't cost much)...

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