Lubcroy in a NE

Lubcroy in a NE
Flair K8 in its element on Lubcroy

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...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Magic Day: the Alpina Takes to the Skies at Long Last

Glorious easterly, fabulous sky, warm and bright, with the prospect of a pint at the end of the day. What more could anyone want? The Alpina, newly electrocuted, finally took to the skies. And took to them without the slightest need for power. She rose, she flew, she banked, she turned, she looped and landed. What a sweet flying plane. What elegance, presence, weight. Well. Not so weighty: 4.545kg, consisting of a few grams of ballast in the nose, an Xpower long shaft motor from Topmodel (highly recommended); Hyperion 4s Lipo and a Hobbywing Platinum 80A ESC. Better than 700g of lead in the nose. 

Meanwhile the Mini Vector was wrung out by the Wing Commander, after which we shook hands, smiled and headed back down to the Oykel Bridge Hotel for a bar meal and a pint. The end of a perfect day.
Copyright Asher Svidensky
 Mind you, this is what I call flying. A young Kazakh girl flying an eagle. Radio control? Pah.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Another Perfect Day

Let's just see some photos this time; fewer  words. A Mini Vector and a Simprop Solution on a north easterly overlooking the Oykel.

A word from the WingCo: "Nice easy walk today, small light glider. Patchy lift to start with, and lucky to get down alive. Both landed side onto the slope as the lift vanished under a grey woolly blanket."

But we persevered. And the sun came out. The cloud disappeared and the lift increased. Two good flights from the Solution and a masterful display of aerobatics from Tally Ho Taylor; rolling circles; square loops; knife edge inverted tunrs but "sometimes not quite sure which way to push the sticks". Photographer in fear of his life at times.

And here are the photos to prove it.

Just a Perfect Day...

 A perfect day, in the end. Two scale gliders against a nice sky and plenty of lift. Worth the trudge up the hill, although it didn't feel like it half way up with Taylor grumbling about the weight of his K*****8.

Perfect? Not that it dawned as such. An aborted trip to the East, a spell back in the workshop where I build wooden boats, then back to the slope; this time the clouds had cleared and the slope just got better as the afternoon drew on.

Just two planes: Flair K8, built by Wing Commander "Tally ho" Taylor and my FlyFly Fox. What a beautiful sight: two semi-scale gliders in the air at once. Makes you wonder why anyone bothers with sticky things with pointy noses.

As for sticking silly little pilots up from (let alone straps, hat, full gliding gear and even a copy of Glider Porn tucked into the map pocket) can't see the point. There was, however, a silly-looking duck up front of the K8, looking suitably petrified as he was flung around the sky.

The Fox is a revelation. Lands like a feather with crow brakes deployed. And flys superbly. Not overly fast, which suits me fine, but has great presence in the sky.

No faults; no tip stalls and almost too easy to land, which may come back and bite me on approach, advises the WingCo if I come in too low on the downwind and lose speed on the final turn. PS Might add the orange decals on the side for the next flight.

Bit of a b***er climbing the hill and they are in the process of planting trees. Will there be any slopes left for our children to fly little aeroplanes in future? A few years left before the lift is affected. Trees are fine and we have would have no trouble with the subsidies that go with them for "improvement to amenities" if they could, perhaps, include a nice path to the top for the not-getting-any-younger members of the Highland RC Gliding Club.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Another Day Another Hill (well Two in Fact)

As the wreckage of the Salto was consigned to the bin, another day dawned bright and North Westerly, so to Benmore we went with Mini Vector, Fox and Phase 6.

After a very promising launch, with endless lift, all of a sudden a massive downdraught and hasty landing. Somewhat alarming, considering what a brilliant slope it can be. Was it the trees or the cold air coming off the sea? Discretion won and the Fox was packed away without a flight, just as the conditions improved. It would have flown, if I had held my nerve.

Then it became blustery and rather unpleasant flying, so the Phase 6 and Mini Vector were also packed away and off we set for the Dam Lochs above Strathkanaird where the lift was smooth and stable, albeit the landing was as usual treacherous.

Commit to the skies, be brave, and all was fine. The landing, sharp turn down wind, through the sun, full flaps and reflexed ailerons, and into the back of the slope. No bother.

Three flights and time to go home. We had won the day.

PS The Salto will fly again with a new set of veneered foam wings with a sensible section. Something to keep me busy in the winter.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Oh Bu****

"Looks not too bad."

"Nothing that a little superglue..."

"Perhaps not."

"No, definitely not."

"Most definitely not..."

PS: Chinese rubbish; nice fuselage but terrible wings: flimsy (an understatement), awful airfoil, dreadful tip stall, almost unflyable, certainly not enjoyably. We shall be making some decent wings for it to Fly Again...

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sneak Preview of New Mcintyre Machine

Well, well. What have we found hidden away in the depths of the McIntyre workshop? Is it the prototype for another human-powered aeroplane from the man who conceived and built the magnificent Airglow?

Or is it the little sister of the Dreamflight Weasel, of which one was so sadly lost on the Cat's Back a few weeks ago? (see post passim).

Yes, it's an Alula. A featherweight glider, shaped like a bird that will fly in a sheep's fart or a Force 8, of which we have quite a few, (of both) up here in the North West.

And get the whacky colour scheme, presumably to make it less attractive to sea eagles (or perhaps to aid discovery in case it goes AWOL).

Watch this space, as they say. Whatever John conceives is always: beautifully made, elegant and efficient. Well he is, allegedly, a  member of the human-powered committee of the Royal Aeronautical Society as well as the most helpful, honest and talented craftsmen you could hope to have sharing a cold, draughty former milking parlour in the Highlands.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

At Last a Good Sky (plus Sea Eagle...)

Today was a day to remember. Southerly, ish, not too cold, beautiful sky, could have been more wind but enough, and smooth, smooth, smooth.

Oh, and didn't we mention the sea eagle which took a fancy to the Excel 4004? It was love at first sight. Me, an adolescent young sea eagle looking for action; she a tasty, albeit rather large white bird with red wingtips and a sexy body. Until it decided that mating with a lump of German glassfibre would not be the best idea. He was tempted for a while, as you can see, following the plane and making plaintive squeaking noises. Alas, they were not returned.

At one point the eagle looked poised to attack, but thought better of it. So it settled instead for some gentle formation flying before peeling off.

Next up was the Reichard Elipsoid which circled gently, by which time the eagle had decided that the planes posed no threat, or perhaps it didn't fancy it as much as the Excel.

The landing was good for our area; not too many rocks, pot holes, bomb craters, sheep, deer and severe rotor. We could relax and enjoy the flight without worrying about the arrival.

The Excel notched up around 60 minutes of some of the best flying to date. The high point was screaming dive from height, a lovely long banked turn over the valley, carrying momentum all the way, before climbing back up into the clouds.

And a gentle landing, albeit with slightly shaking hands (and after thirty years of flying it's never entirely stress-free, especially the first time on a new slope.)

Finally it was time for the Phase 6. What a joy. Why would an old fart need anything faster or more aerobatic? Should last me a lifetime if I don't smash it up like the last one which totalled itself on the Dam loch north easter. The debris field was a sight to see...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Elipsoid Maiden

Today, a day of puffy clouds and sunshine, saw the Reichard Elipsoid in the air for the first time. Effortless and relaxing, more later...

For the technically minded: HS81s for ailerons and rudder, HS65HB for elevator. Turnigy 900kv motor, 1300 3s Lipo. Plenty of power, about 5 minutes flight time under power. Lands like a feather but floats for miles even with  85%reflexed ailerons.

The day also saw the Excel 4004 circle lazily above the Kanaird hills. Hardly any lift but a good afternoon's flying.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Ode to Soaring

Upon the hills I love to soar
But knees and hips can't take much more

Each climbing step with heart a'pumpin'
Which one today will I be bumpin'

The Vector or the all-glass Fox
I should have kept them in the box

But now's the time to catch the air
So let your wingman be aware

To launch it fast and launch it true
Or else this friendship could be through...

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bidule Latest

The Bidule arrived today from West Wales Models and more than lived up to our expectations. In these days of cheap Cinese kits, Ecotop Top Model came up trumps with plane that, wherever it was actually put together, shows extraordinary thought, and included a fittings kit of exceptional quality.

"In all my years of flying I cannot remember seeing such a well-produced product. The fittings are the best I have ever seen. They have clearly designed it round a petrol engine with nylon inserts in the linkages and steel control horns to stop rf interference." Gordon Taylor, HRCGC founder member and former ADS member.

Monday, 10 February 2014

To Tow or Not to Tow...

As the members of the HGC get older and infirmer the time may come when hills are off limits, or afforested, so the decision was taken at the last DGM committee meeting (Daily General Meeting) to purchase a club tow plane, and the choice came down to: a Miss Morava; Bidule 55; Wot4 Xtreme and Sig Rascal.

After a lengthy chat with Mike at West Wales Models the Bidule was chosen for its build quality and the fact that it is used by the military for target towing and surveillance, with hundreds of hours flying, some at extreme altitude.

Now we'll have to master the art of the aerotow, which some say is straightforward and others... At least we have the perfect plane for the job and with Taylor at the controls we are in safe hands (or thumbs).

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Weasel Evo (RIP)

Somewhere on the back side of the Cat's Back a Weasel is drawing its last breath, or rather twitching out the last dregs of its 4.8mA NiMh flight battery. I don't think it wanted to be found. Despite exhaustive searches on the treacherous slopes of this amazing hump back, the Weasel evaded discovery, and the search was reluctantly abandoned.

And the lesson? When another member, well the only other member of the HSRCGC, maidens his Mini Vector, and comes close to piling into the hillside, keep your eyes on your Weasel...

RIP, we had many, many flights together. But I am not sad. Weasels are all very well, but no substitute for something with wings, tail, at least four servos, a wing span of 3m or more and preferably made in Germany.

It's just the thought of the little Weasel, up there in the cold, lost, abandoned and it was all my fault. Forgive me Wee Weasel...

Highland Slopers Go Live

Welcome to the Highland Slopers blog. Not much to say as yet but we will post some stuff when we remember.

Our patch covers some of the most beautiful and rugged scenery in the UK, shared only with eagles, Tornado jets, deer and sympathetic game keepers, stalkers and the occasional hill walker.

Luckily, in Scotland, we have the right to roam wherever we want so long as we are responsible and sensitive to other hill users, man and beast. The right to fly model gliders is enshrined in the landmark legislation, which makes Scotland a paradise for slope flying, even if the landing is often extremely rugged.

One day, however, it will all be reforested and our slopes will disappear. But for now, we enjoy some of the best flying in the country. Although more often than not it's blowing a gale, from the wrong direction, or raining.