July 18, 2013 9:20:12 PM EDT
I took the glider to the flying field after work tonight. At least a dozen guys were there. Several of them had apparently never seen an .049 engine before and a couple didn’t even know how it worked. I found this odd because most of these guys were older than me. This tells me that they must have started flying planes after I stopped 35 years ago when .049 engines were still plentiful. Most of them use electric engines now. Also, only one of the guys indicated that he had ever flown gliders before. Despite their apparent bewilderment at my choice of power and planes, several did comment that the glider was really nice looking.
A couple guys checked the glider over and declared it airworthy. The guy who had flown gliders before agreed to test fly it for me. He and another guy tried a couple test glides by hand launching it with no power to see if it would glide OK. It was a disaster. They figured it needed power to launch correctly. I started the engine. They hand launched it and it crashed. The corner of one of the wingtips was a casualty but a quick field repair by me made it flyable again.
Much discussion ensued. I maintained that they were launching it at an up angle which was helping it to stall before gaining airspeed. Ultimately, this was correct but it was only one factor. Another guy tested the CG (Center of Gravity) and found the glider to be way too tail heavy. Two other guys had checked the CG earlier but had used an incorrect CG point given the wing configuration of the glider. This other guy knew the correct method for CG on this glider. The tail heavy situation was determined to be the main contributor to the bad launches/flights. I was handed a bag of lead shot (very small BB’s) and filled the small compartment in the nose with the weight. We taped the compartment closed and the CG tested OK.
Another power launch attempt was made with me launching. The launch and flight was a success! The engine run was short so not much altitude was gained and wind was gusty so the flight was not great but it did prove that the glider could fly.
We waited a bit for calmer winds before 3 more flights were then made with each being longer, more stable, and better than the last. The glider pilot was now getting used to the glider controls and declared it to be a real nice flying glider especially when gliding with no power. On the last flight, he turned the controls over to me. I did OK for about 1 minute and for several turns. Then I turned too sharply and had to hand the controls back to him to recover from the ‘downward descent’ I had put it into! He made a nice recovery. Several comments were made that I had done a good job on my first, but brief, session behind the controls.
The glider pilot then took me to his large, old fashioned style, high wing, electric powered plane. He got it airborne and showed me how to control it then turned the controls over to me for about 5 minutes. The plane was a very slow and stable flyer and was great as a trainer. Several more comments were made that I did a great job with it for a first timer.
The night was a success for me in that I brought the plane home in basically the same condition as it left home in. I do have a small bit of touchup to do on that wingtip but it’s no big deal. And I proved that the glider could fly. And I did prove (at least to myself!) that my choice of a glow-fueled engine was sound. However, the Cox .049 is a little underpowered for this glider and the gas tank is too small for any long flights. But it seemed to impress folks that after every flight, I just needed 30 seconds to refill the tank and I was ready to fly again. No changing electric power cells after every flight and then recharging them for 45 minutes before each re-use!
I was invited back and told them that I would be.
After getting back home, I had a few minutes to take inventory of today’s flight events and came up with a small list of items to tweak the glider with:
- Repair wingtip.
- Glue in the ballast (lead shot) and glue a thin balsa cover over the compartment to keep the shot from going anywhere!
- Add small dots of velcro to the front and rear of the cockpit canopy to hold it on to the fuselage. I had to hold it on with a rubber band at the airfield when it proved to be inadequately attached.
- Remove the muffler from the cylinder head of the .049 engine. We didn’t use the muffler and it is not required on an engine this small at this flying field. Removing it will had a few hundred RPM’s to the engine and improve power and performance.
- Add a larger fuel tank. There is a company in Canada (Cox International: http://coxengines.ca) that still sells Cox engine parts and I can purchase an ‘extended’ fuel tank from them for a few bucks. This will add at least a minute (and maybe 2!) to the engine runs thus getting the glider up to a higher altitude before the engine quits.
- Hit the flying field again and enjoy improved flights!