It's amazing how great models just keep flying. Sometime in 1999 Greg Hahn built a beautiful B-17 from Don Smith planes. Over the next six years the aircraft had two owners other than Greg and flew at many events, finally ending up in my basement needing some repairs.
|Peter Goldsmith works on his B-17 at home.|
As this was my first scale project, I was excited to get involved in the world of scale modelers. One of my goals as JR Team Manager is to better understand all segments of aero modeling to better support our Team JR members. When purchasing the model, I was told that there was some work needed to get it flying. There was extensive damage to the tail wheel mount and main undercarriage mount. In addition to this, the fuselage was broken in half and there was some damage to the nose. Although this sounds excessive, it wasn't too much work-probably around 80 to 100 or so hours to repair it.
|The B-17 uses four Evolution .61NT engines.|
After the repairs were complete, I decided to upgrade the power system to a Horizon exclusive engine brand. After looking at what was available, I decided to use the new Evolution 61 engines. I've had a lot of experience with Evolution in trainers, both the Alpha 40s and 60s, and due to their outstanding reliability and ease of operation, my thoughts were that I couldn't go wrong.
The test fly day finally came and good friends David Ribbe (experienced Scale pilot) and John Diniz (John is always good luck at test flights) attended the big event. Both John and Dave remarked on how great she looked. They also asked me how many hours I had run the engines. Hmmm… "None," I said, "this is their first run."
Having used the Evolutions before I hadn't even considered running the engines before flying the model. In all of the Alpha trainers I had flown them in, I had just started them and flown, never test run them. Both John and Dave seemed concerned. They knew the reliability of the engines, but it just didn't seem right not to test run them. We all agreed at the time, if there ever was an engine to use in this sort of project, especially if the first run was a test flight, the Evolution was the best choice.
I had pre-set the needles on all engines right in the middle of the needle valve limiters before running, which, by the way, is one of my favorite benefits of the Evolution series. I then proceeded to start the engines. I had a starter with me but the spinner cone was too large for the job so I was unfortunately left with hand flipping. Well, within about four minutes, I had started and tuned all four engines. All stayed in the middle of the factory settings with a slightly rich setting. The idle was smooth and reliable, and my thoughts were, "Nothing left to do but fly it."
I guess, to be perfectly honest, my only other concern with this project was the power available to fly the aircraft. Other models of this type I have seen flown were using much larger capacity engines. Some used 91-100 FS, some with the 90-100 2-strokes, and some even used the Zenoah G26 Gas engines. So the little Evolution 61s, although fitting nicely in the cowl, and weighing much less than the examples I have seen used, concerned me because they may not have had enough power for the job.
With all four engines now running, the excitement was building and the sound was so cool. I had never flown a big multi like this before. I had never used the Evolution engines in a project like this either; I thought they were just for trainers. Ha! Boy, was I wrong. Phew! After calming the butterflies (yep, I was nervous), I remember hearing Dave's final comments. "Keep it straight on the takeoff roll," he shouted. "This isn't going to leap off the ground like your Aerobatic ships."
Away she rolled. I advanced the throttles slowly, keeping it straight, as master scale pilot Mr. Ribbe advised me. Faster she went, reaching mid-runway much quicker than I had expected. There was no perfect rotation, no struggling into the air. She leapt off the ground like something was chasing her. Due to an incidental problem, I found myself climbing out at about a 30-degree angle. (Isn't it amazing how that elevator trim seems to hide itself on the transmitter when you need it most?) Fortunately, the EVOs just kept pulling this 40-pound monster up and up. I was truly amazed; there was nothing marginal about this performance. After a few minutes I settled it all down, finally locating the elevator trim, proceeded to get the aircraft into a nice trim and began to do a few low passes. We were all totally jazzed about realism, both in the sound and appearance; Greg sure did a great job.
The time finally came to land. Typically, I do a retract check and upon flying past our crew I heard a shout from John, "3 greens!" he said. I guess that meant I had 3 wheels to land on. I turned her downwind, then to base and set up for a moderately steep approach with full flap, rounded out at around 4 feet and settled her in for a 3 point. Wow.
The whole time this flight was going on, I was amazed how well the Evolution 61s ran. They were perfect and the power was astounding. I flew most of the flight below half throttle.
I know this sounds like a sales pitch but, wow, if you're looking at any Warbird project, sport aircraft, or anything that needs a solid dependable engine, I can't recommend enough the Evolution line of engines-they are so much more than just a trainer engine. Give them a try. You won't be disappointed.