Stryking While the Iron is Hot
I must say that flying these more advanced planes is really getting addictive. I have gotten more and more confident with each subsequent flight. Along with flying the MS Composit Swift II, I’ve also had my eyes on a similar plane—the ParkZone Stryker. One of the neat things about the Stryker is just how many different ways you can get one. For those just progressing from a Zone 2 or Zone 3 HobbyZone plane, there’s the standard Stryker F-27B that includes a brushed motor and all the running gear right in the box. For those who want the speed of a brushless motor and need the radio gear, the Stryker F-27C is the ideal choice. Now, if you already have radio gear and batteries, there’s even a Plug-N-Play version of the Stryker F-27C. This version of the Stryker includes an 1880Kv brushless motor and 25A speed controller. Just add your gear and you’ll be good to fly.
The version of the Stryker I’ve had a chance to fly lately has been the Stryker F-27C. I was pleasantly surprised that it felt very neutral in the air. I half-expected the Stryker to feel, I don’t know, perhaps twitchy or touchy in the air. I keep thinking, even though I really know better, that these planes are difficult to fly although they’re really not. Within a few moments of flying the Stryker, I was able to perform inside and outside loops, do figure-8s around light poles, and more. It was actually a really cool feeling. It just goes to show that we can often be our own harshest critic.
Going out and flying around on your own can be very enjoyable, but sharing this wonderful hobby with others can be even more fun. Every once in a while, several of us take an extended lunch to spend time together and have a group fun fly. This particular time was rather interesting, as we had three very experienced pilots there, myself, and several people who had very little or no previous flight experience. We had several planes with us, including my Firebird Commander 2, several MS Composit Swift II’s, and one large Hangar 9 27% Extra 260. Between all of these planes, just about everyone had an opportunity to try their hand at the sticks, with several really getting bitten by the flying bug.
While some of the others were flying my Firebird Commander 2, I had a chance to take the sticks of one of the MS Composit Swift II’s. I had never flown a “flying wing” such as this before, so I was a little nervous before taking the sticks. I also still have the fear of crashing and, even though I really haven’t crashed in some time, I don’t think that I will ever fully shake that fear. While I held the radio, someone else gave it a toss as I applied the throttle. The Swift II climbed up into the air rather quickly and in no time I was roughly 100 feet in the air. Because of its slim profile, there were a few times early on when I felt like I was in trouble and couldn’t tell the orientation of the plane. After a second or two, I was able to recover and flew for about fifteen minutes without any problems. While I was in the air, I was able to perform loops, buzz the tarmac, and perform some other maneuvers as well. I must say I had an absolute blast flying this plane and think I may need to get one for myself.
Can we get a calm stretch of weather?
The weather just keeps on keeping on here, with another strong batch of storms coming through this past weekend. Several tornadoes were sighted once again, making me wonder what this spring, my first in the area, is really going to be like. It’s going to be interesting to say the least. I had planned on heading to a local armory tomorrow night to try some indoor flying, but unfortunately it’s closed. Not being able to fly this Tribute 3D is absolutely killing me.
While the Tribute 3D is sitting there, staring me in the face to the point of mocking me, I have a new “toy” that I could fly in my house if I want to. That’s right; I finally broke down and bought an E-flite Blade CX (EFLH1200). I am totally psyched to finally get my hands on a CX of my own. What is especially cool is that a number of my friends bought CX’s at the same time. This is the coolest part to me, as we’ll all be learning together, pushing each other to go fly and get better. And don’t forget that, while flying alone is fun, it’s even more fun to fly with other people and make it into a social gathering. In addition to the CX itself, I also picked up two extra batteries (EFLB0990), Training Gear (EFLH1205), Main Motor Heatsinks (EFLH1208), and a set of replacement upper (EFLH1221) and lower (EFLH1220) blades. While I won’t install it right away, I also opted for the new Hop-Up Inner Shaft that comes equipped with an aluminum head (EFLH1240). Oh yeah, I’ll be flying all night long!
In Like a Lamb…
It’s been said that you can categorize the month of March in one of two ways: in like a lamb and out like a lion, or in like a lion and out like a lamb. This, of course, refers to the weather conditions and, while the early part of the month (and really the year) has been decent to fly in, Mother Nature is coming at us now with a vengeance. From rain, to sleet, snow flurries, and let me not forget gusting winds. One of these days has to be nice though, and the forecast seems to be looking up.
I haven’t been able to fly one yet, but I did want to tell everyone about the new E-flite Super Airliner DF ARF (EFL7000). I’ve been able to watch it fly on several occasions and it’s by far one of the coolest and most realistic planes I have ever seen fly. It has a twin-ducted fan setup that really makes it sound like the real thing; it’s amazing. What’s even more amazing is to see it perform some basic aerobatics! I’ll just say there are some flights I’ve been on that don’t fly nearly as smoothly as the Super Airliner flies; the only thing missing is a bossy flight attendant and stale peanuts. I know I don’t have the skills to fly it yet, but it’s definitely very cool and worth a look.
My Training Continues
Remember a while back when I mentioned that we had been lucky this winter? We really hadn’t had much snow? And I also mentioned how I thought I could be jinxing the situation by just talking about it? Well, if you don’t remember that, I will admit that I did say those things. And, just like I thought I would, I did go ahead and jinx myself. While we didn’t get hit nearly as hard as some of those folks in Nebraska and the Dakotas, we still received a respectable amount of snowfall here. It wasn’t the blizzard that they were calling for, but then again I have learned to take the predicted snowfall and only about 25% of what they’re calling for. Needless to say, I have yet to get back out and do any more flying with any of my planes—thanks to the winds and the snow. I hope to have a better report for you soon.
A Fitting Tribute
With the finishing touches made to the Tribute 3D, I waited for the winds to calm down before taking the plane out for its maiden flight. There were a few challenges that I faced before the first flight, but thankfully I had a number of experienced pilots nearby to keep an eye on what this “car guy” was up to. I also turned to them on a frequent basis to ask what must have been like a million questions, and each of them answered my questions thoughtfully and precisely in a manner that was easy to interpret and understand. I just want to say to Angelo, Spencer, and John Redman, thanks for your help guys. I hope each of you can find people as helpful as these guys were for me.
The winds have been extremely strong as of late; far too strong to even think about flying outside. There have been wind gusts in the area recorded at over 100 mph, and we’ve even had our first tornados of the season about fifty miles from where I live. To say the weather has been interesting would be an understatement. I was able to get out with John Redman at my side. John took the Tribute 3D up first to trim it out and make sure it had equal throws. I’ve done this countless times before with a new car or truck, but there’s a big difference with a plane. You can pull a car or truck off to the side of the track to make adjustments and actually look at your radio. You can’t just stop your plane mid air and make an adjustment. You need to be comfortable enough in your skills to make changes on the fly (no pun intended). Once John felt like it was trimmed out, he landed and handed me the radio. John connected his radio to mine with a trainer cord; this way if I got too out of shape he could take over and pull the plane out of a potential crash. I gave the Tribute 3D some throttle and it leaped into the air smoothly. I wasn’t going to try any aerobatics on this first flight, I simply wanted to buzz around for awhile and get the feel of the plane. I had cut back the throws in an effort to make the Tribute 3D less twitchy and have a milder feeling. It worked. I am happy to report that the Tribute 3D survived unscathed and John only needed to hit the Trainer button a few times. I can’t wait to get out with this plane again.
Is it Typhoon Season?
Well, I'm proud to report that the assembly of the Tribute 3D is complete. It’s not that it took long to build, as I probably only have about 2–3 hours into it, and most of that was spent applying decals and making sure that everything was squared up. Through each step of assembly, I made sure I had a more experienced pilot inspect my work. Team JR’s Angelo Lomeli checked and verified my wing and stabilizer placement. E-flite’s John Redman was there each time I had an assembly question, whether it was where to cut the servo mounting holes and which servo arms to use, to providing other helpful tips and tricks. It is safe to say that without their expertise, I wouldn’t be as excited about flying the Tribute 3D.
For the first flights on the Tribute 3D, I am going to defer to Angelo Lomeli and John Spencer. Having never built a plane and installed the radio gear, I want to make sure that all the radio trims are set properly and that the servos and radios are set to low rates. When you use low rates, the servos don’t travel as far, which moves the control surfaces less than if you were to use high rate. This servo setup makes it so that the plane doesn’t react as quickly or as much, making it much more forgiving for less-experienced pilots, such as myself. Another key aspect will be the fact that for my first few flights, I am going to be set up on a buddy box with Angelo. This way if I get too out of control, he can instantly take over control of the plane until it’s safe for me to take over again. I am putting a lot of thought into being safe on these first few flights. It’s taken a while to get it ready; I don’t want that effort to go to waste.
Speaking of John Spencer, he opened my eyes recently to what just may be my next plane: the ParkZone Typhoon PNP (PKZ4175). It’s a little heavier and larger than what the Tribute 3D is, but it should be more stable outdoors. As an added bonus, I can actually use my DX6 with it too. All I need to add is a receiver and battery packs. It’s a really cool concept that I am going to have to check out.
I’ll get older, but never grow up!
For those of you who were wondering what the last “Coming Next” was talking about—yes, I did just have a birthday this past week. That means that we’ll have to update my profile here on the site to reflect that I am now “21 with 8 years experience” instead of what it is now. I want to thank those who knew when it was for sending their well-wishes.
Assembly is nearing completion on the Tribute 3D as we speak. It’s been an interesting journey from start to finish. For those of you reading this wondering if it really takes this long to build a foamie, it really doesn’t; I’ve just been busy with a number of projects right now and haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to this as I’d like. All that remains at this point is to install a battery, speed controller, and motor. I’d like to use a brushless motor and speed controller combination in the Tribute 3D, but may go with a brushed system just to get up in the air a little sooner. I should have the Tribute complete next week and when I do I will post photos here on the site.
Is it Summer Yet?
I sit here, banging away at my keyboard, taking a break from looking for my keys, wallet, and travelers checks to get this week’s update ready for all you folks out there. Where am I going? Well, I am lucky enough to be attending the Snowbird Nationals in Orlando, Florida. It’s going to feel so good to get out of these 20-30 degree temps and into some nice 60’s and 70’s. I wish I could take you all along, but unfortunately my credit card limit isn’t quite high enough. Well, I have to say congratulations to the Pittsburg Steelers for taking the next step and winning the big one. They played a tough team, had a tough season, and ended up on top. Many members of the team are also avid RC enthusiasts as well. In fact, Team JR member Ron Osinski visited with the team before the season and took several of his JR heli’s along to show the guys. Check out JR At the Steelers Training Camp to see what all went down.
I am really chomping at the bit to get the Tribute 3D up and flying. I have all the electronics, besides the motor and speed control, mounted to the fuselage, the transmitter batteries are loaded, and I feel like I’m ready to go. To ensure that my first few flights are as successful as possible (and so I don’t look stupid for crashing with it on its maiden flight), I have been flying 1–2 packs through the J-3 Cub and Firebird Commander 2 in an effort to stay sharp. I feel pretty confident that once assembly is completed, just after I get back, that the Tribute 3D will have had a successful flight.
Back to Building (and Flying)
Man, oh man, these days of 50+ degree weather is really making this winter a breeze. I know I’ll jinx things by saying this, but I really hope it lasts and that we don’t see any of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky for 10 months or so. This warmer weather has definitely helped me get out and expand my flying time. Whether it’s with my Firebird Commander 2 or my J-3 Cub, I gotta say I absolutely love the extra stick time. I currently only have two packs for my J-3 Cub, and with as much as I’ve been able to fly lately, I think I need another pack or two.
Assembly on the Tribute has been going well. I had a concern when I reached the servo installation step, however. The manual simply states that you should make two holes in the fuselage to accommodate the servo horns. But the fuselage doesn’t have any etching or markings on it to indicate where the servos should be installed. For those of you who don’t know, the servo position and geometry of the steering link is really crucial in RC cars and trucks. After speaking with Team JR’s John Redman, he informed me that the servo placement isn’t as crucial on aircraft as long as the weight is relatively balanced. John also recommended setting up the tail and rudder servos with one servo arm exiting on one side of the fuselage while the other would exit on the other side. This makes it possible to get to the pushrod hardware more easily in the event that adjustments are needed. I am going to follow his advice and install my servos in that fashion. This install method may sound odd, but I’ll post pictures once I have everything mounted, which will help too.
Anyone Have De-Bonder?!?
I have always been very particular when I build a kit, measuring the lengths on things like shocks and turnbuckles 2, 3, even 4 times before I install them on a kit. That attention to detail has served me fairly well as I continue to build the Tribute. The foam components don’t have the centerline marked on them, and the instructions clearly indicate that you will need to use a square when installing the rear stabilizer and the main wing. Just when you think you have everything eyeballed and it looks centered, do yourself a favor and break out a ruler to measure everything up. You’ll be thankful later.
When working with chemicals such as CA, you need to be especially careful to not get any on your skin or drip any on your work area. If you’re not careful, you could wind up with a situation like I was in. While I was installing and centering up the stabilizer, I accidentally knocked over (first mistake) my open bottle of CA. It began to drip on my workbench and I quickly (second mistake) grabbed the bottle with my bare hand. I hadn’t noticed that some of the CA had dripped out (third and final mistake) and gotten on my desk and the outside of the bottle. When I went to set the bottle down on my other workbench, I noticed that I was suddenly very attached to that bottle of CA. That’s right, I glued it to myself. Thankfully or sadly, depending on your point of view, I had a bottle of De-Bonder handy and was able to separate myself from the bottle.
With the main wing and stabilizer installed and the decals applied, next up will be to install the electronics.
Well, here I am back from the US Touring Car Championship and, while I wish I could have done better (I finished 18 th in Brushless and 31 st in Stock Rubber where I won the D-Main), I had a pretty good time. Without a major race in my future for the next number of months, I need to occupy my time. Here I have these two planes staring me straight in the face, the Tribute and Ultimate 3D, so it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Before I build anything, from an RC car to a bookshelf, I read the manual ahead of time so I can highlight anything that I feel needs special attention in the assembly steps. As I poured through the manual, one thing has truly surprised me: You don’t really need many tools to assemble the Ultimate 3D. The main construction tool is foam-compatible CA! There are a few other items you will need, such as a ruler and square, pliers, hobby knife and such, but assembly is really not that intense. The first step in the assembly process is to apply the decals to the wings and fuselage, and that is where I am as of now. John and I will both be elbows deep in foam once our final few items arrive, and we hope to have assembly more than half done by this time next week.