Lubcroy in a NE

Lubcroy in a NE
Flair K8 in its element on Lubcroy

Thursday 3 November 2016

Gliding in Deeside

Well, it's been awhile since the wing commander shuffled off to Aboyne, at a stroke halving the HrcGC's members. Life and gliding went on in a kind of Billy No Mates way, the wing co on some wind swept Aberdeen hill, his c pilot doing something silly with a glider on some wind swept hill in Wester Ross.

But finally it was time to see what all the fuss and phone calls were all about ("Oh, it's beautiful today. I am on a hill and the lift is fantastic and the sun is shing (it always shines in Aboyne)."

Well it doesn't but more often than over on the west side, so we hacked up a hill somewhere and threw an Excel 4004 and an Alpina off and they did indeed soar. We also went full size soaring, catching wave to 12,500 feet. Our instructor from Hungary, Istvan, had never seen a model glider fly so we took him up the hill and within a few minutes he was throwing the Swift around like a real pilot, which of course he was.

Well, it was certainly sunny the day we went up that hill. The wing co is wearing a dead beaver on his head, road kill following a collision with his Lotus. There's a plane up there somewhere.

No, not a collection of crashes but a selection of the toys we took that day. A Vagabond, Excel 4004, Mini Nimbus and the Alpina are all there nestling in the grass.

Graupner mini Nimbus, 3.5m for sale if anyone's interested. Flew well but too precious for our rocky slopes. Yours for £200 including servos, battery and receiver.

 The day before we took this to 12,500 ft in wave. And then invited Istvan to come and fly with us.

Another day another slope, this time with our instructor Istvan on the sticks.

It was a week then of gliding of all kinds, big and small. The verdict? I'd like to go full-size gliding in Aboyne if it weren't so far away and expensive. Too much to learn at my age. Maybe 25 years ago when I first went up, but not now.

Stick to models with maybe the odd flight.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

So long to the WC; Hello Aboyne

No posts since May? And yet we've had some cracking flying (literally as the WC's - wing commander's - Bidule met an ignominious near total last month, of which more later).

The Elipsoid is now sold, for a remarkably good sum, which suggests this thermally, light and rather elegant Reichard electric soarer is quite sought after. And into the stable comes a 4m K21, left behind when the WC (I could think of another name for him, but won't)  decided to piss off to Aboyne after years of faffing about between the blessed land of his ancestors ("sun's shining here, Adrian. What's it like in Mordor", his word for the paradise we call the West Coast.

Anyway, he had his comeuppance at the flying club near Aboyne where he chose to fly his Bidule into a fence. In his defence (ha!) he was trying to avoid a spectator who had taken fright at the sight of an engineless Bidule about to land on his head. It wasn't (it was at least 6in above him)  but these split second reactions can go either way. His went into the deck, and in bits, many bits, lots and lots of bits.

But it is now back together again, thanks to the miracle of super glue and patience, stronger than ever and rearing to go. The WC, to be fair, is one of the very best pilots you can find, with years of experience in building and flying, aerobatically, slope soaring (his first love) and recently helicopters. This was just one of those days (as he used to tell me). The Bidule is scheduled to fly again very soon: "Heads!" or as they say in golf: "Fore!"

Oh, and there's a good chance we'll be going full-size gliding in Aboyne, so the move should be a positive one all round.

My last flight with the Elipsoid was far less dramatic and embarrassing, as no one was watching as I landed it very gently in a rowan tree by the river as I banked in to land. A little TLC and it was stronger than ever. These hills are not for the faint hearted or flimsy, so onto eBay it went and whoever bought it will have a lovely 2,8m glider to play with.

Until the WC departed the season had been of variable quality; some great slope soaring off the Assynt hill, and a little flat field flying with the Alpina, but it's not the same as chucking it off a slope.

And the future? Well, I can see the (Royal) Deeside Highland RC Gliding Club spending more time in the lush surroundings of Aboyne and district, where the hills are alive with the sound of gliders biting the heather, and the panting of old farts dragging their aching limbs up the kind of slopes we in the rugged West take at a gambol.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Fabulous Flying at Oykel and Assynt

May began with promise and two great flying days, the first at the Oykel ridge, the second the fabulous south to west slope above Loch Assynt.

The Oykel saw Alpina, Fox and K8 take to the skies in turn, all flying in smooth lift from a 25mph breeze just north of east: perfect for that ridge.

Landing was a cinch, with both Alpina and Fox behaving superbly, while the K8 did its usual float and drop thing at the wing commander's feet. After which it turned a bit cold, the cloud filled and it was time for home.

The second day we took the Alpina and Excel onto the huge, wide heathery base of the Assynt slope, to see if we could get lift from the hill behind, from the top of which we normally fly.

And what lift. And what speed and momentum they picked up from the strong south westerly coming up over the loch. So fast that the Excel stripped both aileron servos and was only brought down safely using the crow flaps alone. There was only one chance to make a turn into the wind, and one chance to find a spot to bring it in using down flaps, on the throttle stick, and a touch of rudder, but with no aileron control whatsoever.

It was a master class in emergency landing. Losing one aileron is bad enough, but both? For some reason full flaps imparted a slight turning moment which, with a dab of rudder, allowed the Excel to head into wind, but for a long moment it looked terminal.

No photos.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Back to the Slope (and on the Flat)

A flurry of activity now that spring is just around the corner, with Kults and Mini Vectors and Alpina Magics and the new Bidule all taking to the skies.

The Assynt slope proved its worth again, but became pretty blustery by the close, and the landing was as usual a little fraught.

A few days later and it was time to maiden the Bidule, with its MVVS 33 up front, twin tails and astonishing low speed manoeuvrability, even with full flaps.

But any plane will find it hard to land if one wheel is missing as, on take off, a large black round thing was seen to plummet from the undercarriage. Cheap Chinese crap which could have killed a £1,200 plane.

After twenty minutes of aerobatics (seemed a shame to curtail the flight if the landing was going to spell its demise) it was time to bring it in on two out of three wheels. No photos, as I was not keen to witness carnage.

No need to worry; the air commodore brought her in text book, full flaps, cut the engine just before touchdown, and brought the Bidule to a perfect stop.

And, rather than sell it (he's like that with new toys), that flight convinced him that this is one plane to keep and fly the pants off, and maybe do some aerotowing one day.

However, for those wanting a bargain, we do have a pristine Mini Vector for sale at offers over £200. It is fully equipped and ready to fly on 35Mhz. See eBay for more details.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Cool Flying...

My first was a crash; unsurvivable. In the second attempt at landing the pilot would have certainly suffered serious, possibly life threatening injuries. The third might have left him with a good few broken bones, and the last he may well have staggered out with cuts and bruises. Almost certainly he would, in every case, have perished in the snow.

For it was a cold, brilliant day in the far north, about five miles from Kylesku on the road to Cape Wrath, and we had a Weasel with us, dating from around 1980 by the looks of it, and a brand new Zulu, the ones with the drooperons on the leading edge.

Enough about the landings, how about the flying? Superb and great lift, with views north to die for (as indeed the pilot of the Weasel might well have done).

The Weasel, an old version and much patched and battered, performed amazingly well, its age hardly a factor in its ability to loop and roll and do weaselly things.

The Zulu needed more throws on the drooperons, as it was so slow in the roll. The ailerons and leading edge flaps are directly linked, which gives enormous leverage. If they are adjusted right. I reckon I had too much aileron and too little drooperon, which made it very hard to roll. After a few flights the arrivals were getting a little too close to total destruction, so I borrowed the wing commander's Weasel, reversed the elevator (he flies upside down and none the worse for it) and had some great flights.

My landings, however... Must have been the huge throws he flies with, which makes it super twitchy, with no dual rates and no expo. Or me.

After which he took over, I walked Bran in the snow and watched him make a three point, perfect landing at his feet (that's Gordon and the Weasel, not Bran the pointer). It's only a Weasel, but we at the Highland RC Gliding Club try and treat all our planes, glass epoxy, foam veneer or foam with respect. Bastard.

Sunday 19 October 2014

A Typical Day at the Slope

Ring any bells? Weather forecast suggests strong southerlies, and there's that brilliant slope up near Rosehall, you know the one you can drive to the top in a Land Rover. Pack the car with an Alpina 4m, K21, Simprop Excel 4004 and various small stuff and head east.

Wind appears to be very light but things are so often different once you get to the ridge. Half an hour's drive or so, turn left into the farm, head for the gate and. Guess what? Locked. Something to do with timber lorries and public safety. Bollocks.

Head back west and stop at another locked gate below the ridge and decide, nothing ventured. Trek up the hill, over ground pitted and ruptured by plantation work to reach the road at the top. No wind to speak of, and what there is is coming from the south east, 45 degrees to the slope. Bollocks.

Back down the treacherous slope and into the car. Head west to Oykel Bridge where there's a flat field and a south facing bump behind it. Open the flask. Drink coffee and eat an oat cake or two. Ah well, at least we got a walk, and without breaking a leg. No wind. Can't be bothered to fly off a flat field anyway. Bollocks. Triple bollocks.

Head west again. At Lubcroy the grass verges are stirring. Wing commander orders the car stopped, puts compass on grass stem and announces "definitely a southerly" and if it's this strong down here...

Trek up an easy path to the ridge; ten minutes later rewarded by the glorious sight of a south facing slope, brisk southerly and building, blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Up goes the Exel.

Up goes the Alpina.

Flyflyflyfly... land land land (grassy, soft, flat, no rotor).

A day that started with hope, went from bad to worse, turns out brilliant.

That is the agony and the ecstasy of slope soaring in the Highlands, indeed anywhere.

Ring any bells now?

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Alpina on the Flat

Summer's drawing to a close and sailing will soon give way to gliding. We have been out whenever we can but there's too much going on to devote maximum time to flying.

But we did fly the Alpina off the flat. It's either very big or that fellow is very small. Probably the latter...