Flying at Oacoma, South Dakota

Ahi on the shore of the Missouri River
Ahi on the shore of the Missouri River.

I stayed in Oacoma, SD for a couple of days on our way to Wyoming for the Solar Eclipse 2017 and, between family sight seeing including a couple of dams and the capitol at Pierre, I got in a bit of flying.

We stayed at the Arrowhead Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma that is right across the Missouri Rover from Chamberlain, the HQ for many a slope trip to South Dakota. Mostly just passing through but since the resort is right on the shore of the Missouri River I thought, maybe, I’d get a chance to fly a bit. As it happened, time was short but the SE wind was a decent direction for a gander op the shoe north of the resort. I hit pay dirt about 1.5 miles north of Cedar Shore on some Public Land that had about a 30 foot slope with the wind coming straight in at about 15mph.

First time flying this shoreline slope that is 1.5 miles north of the Arrowhead Cedar Shore Resort in Tacoma, SD. Notice that the shoreline bends to the right past the trees for a more southerly direction, Plus, no trees!

My first bird in the air was, of course, the Weasel. I was only moderately hesitant to throw the plane in the air, not because I didn’t think the slope would work but because I’d left the wing screws and the Blenderm tape back at the hotel! No matter, I figured the magnets holding the Weasel-Trek together were strong enough for an exploratory flight and, after about 20 minutes I was proven right on both counts. The plane held together and the slope worked!

Even though I had no problem with the Weasel holding together with no wing screws, I didn’t want to try the same with the Ahi. That, and I wanted long pants to trek through the tall grass to get a bit further down the slope. So, back to the hotel I went. 15 minutes later I was back at the hill putting together the Ahi with wing screws and tape!

As I was putting together the Ahi I decided to add 2 ounces of ballast because the lift was a bit bumpy and I wanted to try to smooth it out a bit. Seemed to work fine as the Ahi grooved right out of my hand. By this time the wind had also picked up close to 20mph. I had a good flight just getting to know the Ahi and, while the lift was OK, I think the increased wind velocity started to blow the lift band out a bit. No matter if it stays int he air I’ll fly that thing!

My final flight of the day was another Weasel flight with the full confidence of a screwed and taped bird. Wonderful!

If you find yourself in the area and don’t want to drive to the bigger slopes outside of town, this is a very flyable shoreline slope that worked well in a Southeast wind. I think 12-15mph would be ideal for the dream-flight dream team of the Ahi, Weasel and Alula!


Maiden Flights of dream-flight Weasel-Trek and Ahi dream-flight dream team of Weasel, Ahi and Alula

I was heading out west for a Solar Eclipse trip towards Wyoming the next day and, as luck would have it, the weather in Milwaukee looked decent for test flights of both my dream-flight Weasel-Trek and the all-new Ahi Freestyle Sloper. I’d planned to take these planes on the trip anyway but it was nice to get a chance to fly before I was on the road.

I started at the Sheridan Park slope in Cudahy that has always been a go to spot for test flights because the land out spot in front is pretty good if things aren’t grooving and it works better than most in a northeast wind. The wind was somewhat more north than ideal but seemed coming in enough to toss out the Ahi, so I did. Pretty right on with just a couple of trim clicks. The wind was really too far north and, since the heyday at this hill several years back, there are some larger trees out in front that were making the lift bumpy but the Ahi flew very well and I had enough height after a few minutes to try some loops and rolls. Very nice, then I switched to high rates and learned that the Ahi can really maneuver! Rolls can be really fast and loops tight and round.

A dude, pilot from the looks of his LearJet (or similar) logo on his shirt, stopped and chatted a bit. He and his wife are summering just up the street and he has a couple of gliders and electrics and said he’d always wondered about this particular slope! The flying Ahi proved the point so maybe we will see him there sometime.

dream-flight-Ahi Freestyle Sloper
dream-flight-Ahi Freestyle Sloper
dream-flight-Ahi Freestyle Sloper
dream-flight-Ahi Freestyle Sloper – bottom stripes

Since the wind we kind of north at Sheridan and I was chomping at the bit to get some proper lift to work out the Ahi more I took a look at the app for what the wind conditions north and south of Milwaukee. It looked decent in Racine at Cliffside Park so I made my way down there expecting decent conditions and, before I even parked, my expectations were rewarded as I saw a lone plane in the sky. I could tell it was a DLG-style plane but wasn’t sure what it was until I approached Ken slopeside and he told me it was a dream-flight Libelle! Interesting since I had all 3 of the other dream-flight planes in my van; the Weasel-Trek, The Ahi and an Alula-Trek. dream-flight dream team of Weasel, Ahi and Alula dream-flight dream team of Weasel, Ahi and Alula!

The wind at Cliffside was about 12+mph so I flew the Ahi first; anxious to get more stick time and see what it can do. I wasn’t disappointed! The lift was really good and gaining height and/or speed was no problem. I kept the Ahi out front more than I plan to on future flights to make sure I could get a feel for it. Mostly basic maneuvers but all I did including inside and outside loops, rolls either way, a few 4 point rolls were all very easy even if the pilot was a little rusty on the sticks. CG seemed pretty spot on with inverted flight needing just a breath of down stick at times to maintain level, inverted flight. I will move the CG back a bit as I get more familiar with the Ahi but my 15-20 minute flight made me realize why I love sloping so much!

After some fun with the Ahi I went for the Weasel -Trek and it’s first proper flight having only tossed it around a few times without decent lift. Right out of my hand it was flying nearly perfect. I’ve got 4 other Weasels so I am very familiar with how they fly but this one was even more so a Weasel than the others. They’ve always felt like bigger planes and they just GROOVE. I am stoked to have the latest version in my quiver and the fact that I can put it back in the original box easily for transport is even better. I think I’ll be making a Weasel bag that I can attach to my backpack so transporting it on my bike will be a breeze.

dream-flight libelle
I shot this photo of Ken’s Libelle at Cliffside Park in Racine.

Ken flew his Libelle again and from the looks of it it is a very nice flying plane that moved well in the 12-15mph wind and I expect it can work great in really light lift as well. I may have to complete the dream-flight hangar with one at some point. Ken, for his part, seems destine to pony up for an Ahi and, possibly a Weasel someday (he already has an Alula at home!). Keep ‘em coming Michael, we love them here in Wisconsin!

All in all, this was the best day sloping in a long time for me. I think I have the bug again, Watch out!


Richter Weasel from Dream Flight

Greg flying a Weasel close in at Big Bay Park.

Wing Span: 36 in
Wing Area: 375 sq in
Weight: 11.5 ounces

Controls: Elevons
Minimum radio requirements: Elevon mixing with dual rates and/or  ATV (Adjustable Throw Volume)
Installed Radio: Hitec Electron 6 receiver, HS-81MG servos and 270 mah NimH battery. JR 8103 transmitter.

The Weasel is a breeze to build. It took me about 4 hours. I think I could have shaved a good hour off that but I used UltraCote (Oracover) to cover it. The tape method is faster although I much prefer the finish of the Ultracote. If you have built a foam wing in the past this plane will present no problems. If this is your first EPP plane then the instructions are some of the best I have seen. You can preview the plans on the website.

What’s it made of?

  • The Weasel wing is made from 1.3 lb per sq/ft density EPP foam The wing set has the servo bays and spar notches pre-cut even the hotwire residue has been removed!
  • The nose pod is made from 1.9 lb per sq/ft density EPP foam with factory-cut battery and receiver compartments.
  • The balsa elevons are delivered pre-beveled for hinging.
  • The kit also includes, wood spars, a CoroplastTM fin, a hardware package and a very thorough construction manual (also available on line at this came in handy when I took the kit on vacation and forgot the instructions)!

As noted on the Weasel website: In order for the Weasel to maintain the flight characteristics, micro size radio equipment is required to keep the weight down. The Weasel is a very pitch sensitive aircraft and therefore requires dual rates or ATV (Adjustable Throw Volume) on at least the elevator channel (channel #2 in most cases). Most computer radios have this function. Unfortunately, the inexpensive 2 and 3 channel radios with just v-tail mixing do not have these sensitivity adjustments, making it difficult to fly the Weasel with them. So please invest in a radio with dual rates and/or ATVs. If you already have a Hitec Focus III and are determined to use it, there is a modification that you can make that will cut down the control throws on the elevator.

Flying the Weasel

Bottom line for the Weasel is does it perform? Yes! Michael Richter designed the Weasel as a lightweight flying wing that is extremely maneuverable, yet forgiving. The Weasel’s design features give it a wide speed range, great hands-off stability, and agility.

I have flown the Weasel in winds conditions ranging from about 4 to 25 mph. One addition I still plan to do is make provisions for ballast. I have flown it on a lot of hills from 15 foot high “speed bumps” to 500 foot pristine slopes in South Dakota and it handles them all well.

The Weasel is very aerobatic in the hands of an accomplished pilot. Inverted flight is excellent, roll rate is fast loops are great both inside and outside. This is a super plane! With the control sensitivities turned down, and the CG moved forward, it can be great for beginners as well. It lets me fly when I otherwise could not and at slopes that are not suitable for any other plane. All this in a 36-inch span glider that stows anywhere!

Related Links

Richter R/
Hobby-Lobby (Ultracote/Oracover) –

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