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Hangar 9 Alpha Trainer

4/23/2003 by Dave Martin

Provider Name:  Model Airplane News

Issue:  January 2003

Copyright:© 2003 Air Age Media

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In this article...

Page 1: Alpha Features
Page 2: Flying Fun

In the air, Hangar 9's new Alpha Trainer is attractive and flies smoothly, and from a distance you would be hard-pressed to distinguish it from other high-wing, long-tail trainers seen every weekend at fields across the country. But when it taxis close and the pilot shuts the engine down, you may wonder what this engine with its angled cooling fins is. And what is that black thing behind the prop? The engine is the new .46-size Evolution A, and the thick black disc is a flywheel for easy engine starting and a smooth idle.

The pretuned and run-in engine, the special 3-blade propeller and the flywheel make up the Evolution Engines Trainer Power System. It's designed to ensure success for the first-time RC pilot, and it works.

Specifications

Model: Alpha Trainer
Manufacturer: Hangar 9
Distributor: Horizon Hobby Inc.
Type: ready-to-fly trainer
Wingspan: 63 in.
Length: 25.2 in.
Weight: 5 lb., 4 oz.
Wing area: 710 sq. in.
Wing loading: 17.0 oz./sq. ft.
Engine Installed: .46-size Evolution Engines Alpha A
Radio Installed: JR 4-channel Quattro w/4 NES-527 servos, R700 receiver and JR 600mAh battery pack.
Prop: 10-in., 3-blade Hangar 9 EVOE 100P (included)
Fuel Used: Performance Plus 15% nitro
Street price: $309.99

Features: balsa and plywood airframe covered with UltraCote; installed Evolution Trainer Power System; installed JR Quattro radio; 15- to 30-minute assembly.

Comments: with the help of a good instructor, the Alpha Trainer will get any student off to an excellent start.

Hits

  • Outstanding trainer performance.
  • Excellent airframe quality.
  • Everything is installed.
  • Assembly is incredibly quick.

    Misses
  • Some basic information is not included in the manual (e.g., engine and tank size, prop and glow-plug designations).

  • What's in the Box
    Hangar 9 labels this airplane ready to fly (RTF), and it's right; it nearly flies out of the box! The engine and fuel tank have been installed, and color-coded fuel and vent lines are in place. The box contains a JR 4-channel Quattro radio complete with a buddy-cord system that's compatible with any JR radio. The receiver, battery and all four servos have been installed along with their pushrods, which are factory-adjusted to the proper length. The clevises are oriented correctly to be attached to their control horns, the receiver and battery are out of sight in their foam-protected space, and the mounted receiver switch is ready to turn the system on.

    Assembly
    There is very little assembly. The entire sequence is presented in the manual as a two-page drawing; you could easily complete the model without reading the text. You'll need a medium Phillips-head screwdriver and a wrench to tighten the prop nut. There is nothing to glue.

    Wing: Push one end of the thick-wall aluminum wing-joiner tube into the wing root hole in one wing half, and slide the other end into the other wing half. Trailing-edge pins ensure the proper alignment of the panels, which are held together with clear tape that is wrapped around the center of the wing. I started the tape on the top trailing edge and attached it along the gap to the leading edge and then along the bottom center of the wing.

    Because the aileron servo is mounted on the bottom of the left wing near the wing root, I cut the tape just short of the servo and then resumed taping the gap behind the servo. The left aileron linkage was already attached to the left strip aileron. The remaining task was to connect the right aileron pushrod to its horn. The clevis had been preset on the rod and needed no adjustment to fair the right aileron with the servo set in its center (neutral) position.

    It took less than 2 minutes to complete the wing.

    Fuselage: The wheels come attached to the main landing-gear legs, which you plug into the fuselage bottom and fasten with two nylon straps held by four screws. Another 2 minutes.

    It took a bit longer to attach the empennage. I had to slightly open the holes in the horizontal stabilizer to accommodate the threaded studs that have been mounted in the vertical fin/rudder unit. Pushed through the stabilizer, these studs lock the fin to the stabilizer with the help of washers, tiny wing nuts and a bit of supplied thread-lock. Another 3 minutes gone, but if you need your round jewelers' file (as I did) and know right where it is, you can cut that time in half.

    The RTF Alpha Trainer comes with the JR radio system installed. The system includes pushrods of the correct length, lableled aileron and charge leads and a mounted on/off switch. The receiver and battery are packed in foam under the plywood retainer on the right.

    The final task is to attach the empennage to the fuselage. I placed the fuselage upside-down and noted two bolt holes in the top of the tail. The assembly sequence indicates that screws must be inserted through these holes into mating T-nuts in the horizontal stab, but this was easier said than done. The elevator pushrod and the antenna pass through a 1 3/4x3/4-inch opening in the fuselage rear. The fuselage sides are tapered, so it is easy to start the rear empennage attachment screw. Not so with the forward screw. Although there is a hole in the bottom of the fuselage to accommodate the Phillips-head screwdriver, and I was able to hold the screw, the stiff pushrod got in the way and made it difficult to start it. I needed a pair of forceps and a mini flashlight to finish the job. Instead of doing this, you might want to attach the tail in bright light--maybe outside--and hold the pushrod aside with a spring-type clothespin.

    Propeller: A separate instruction sheet provided details on how to mount the special 3-blade, reinforced-plastic propeller and spinner. Your Phillips-head screwdriver must be just the right size--small enough to fit into the spinner holes but large enough to match the slots.

    Although the prop would work fine as supplied, I invested a few extra minutes to balance it and minimize vibration. It took another 4 minutes to mount the balanced prop and spinner, but I dallied.

    Takeoff and Landing
    In less-than-ideal conditions (7 to 8mph winds with frequent gusts), the Alpha Trainer's wide-stance gear allowed a down-the-runway crosswind takeoff without fuss. Two clicks of up-elevator trim resulted in an impressive hands-off climb rate. No other trims were required.

    The first landing (in a gust) was a two-hop bounce job, but subsequent touchdowns were smooth two- pointers on the main wheels. Taxiing in a gusty crosswind was easy; the Alpha Trainer didn't have any tendency to upset. The wide gear helps. Nose-gear steering was straight and not twitchy--just right for a trainer.

    Low-Speed Performance
    Throttling and trimming back for slowest flight yielded no stall break, and the wing remained level at the stall, which proves that it is built straight. Even in the wind, the Alpha Trainer was easy to trim for a slow-speed approach. At mid-throttle settings, it was difficult to hear the engine because it was so quiet.

    High-Speed Performance
    The Alpha Trainer is not meant for high-speed flight, but full-power, forward-trim cruising feels and looks solid and is not overly sensitive. The need to trim differently for thumbs-off flight at different speeds proves that it has positive pitch stability--an excellent feature in a trainer.

    Aerobatics
    The Alpha Trainer has enough power to practice a wide range of large, smooth aerobatics. Nothing happens quickly. The wing and tail bottoms are covered with red UltraCote, and the rest of the airplane is white with trim; this should help with orientation. The model's large size and slow flight make it an ideal aerobatics trainer. Rudder is needed with aileron for rolling maneuvers; this is also excellent for training.

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