A mess at Menez-Hom – Death of a Wizard

On Sunday afternoon, May 3rd we went to the very famous 1000 foot hill called Menez-Hom. This is only about 20 miles from Le Faou where we are staying. Temp 60 degree, wind 15 mph from the NNE.

After more nearby house hunting earlier in the day, we drove to the top of the hill, parked the car in the already crowed lot. Lots of tourists come here in good weather as well as bikers, hikers, campers, and people like us.

I had reservations about going to this site, but it was close to Le Faou.

I set up my heavy yellow and blue Wizard 2x and my wife and I walked the quarter mile to the correct side of the wind direction. This is a 360 degree hill: any angle can produce lift.

There were hang gliders flying, but well away from the area used on this day by slope flyers. There were about 10 or 11 modelers there already.

I easily launched my plane in the moderate wind and was flying for about 6 or 7 minutes when disaster struck: the Wizard got its stab, rudder, and right wingtip sheared off by a Cortina (a 3 meter flying wing). The stab and rudder were pulverized (the rudder servo is gone, never found) and the right wing must be replaced. Other damage included a stripped Multiplex elevator servo. The fuselage and left wing are intact.

I never saw the Cortina, before, during, or after the collision: only the Wizard slowly flat spinning to the soft vegetation covered ground. YUK!

Better flying news with my next email about flying at Beg an Fry on Sunday May 10.


Dave’s Report on the McLean Vector2

For a number of years now Greg and I have been talking about designing and building planes for sale. On those long slope safari trips we’d go over what we’d want to see in a plane. Greg’s got a lot of great ideas which are top secret right now 😉  One thing that was paramount was we weren’t going to sell anything that we didn’t like flying ourselves.

Then a couple months ago an opportunity presented it self in the form of the Brian McLean Vector2. Greg called me up and said he’d found a plane that fit’s what he was looking for. Great flyer, sleek lines, super reputation and a twisty wing ta boot. Well, sign me up!…Greg is a great pilot and if he says “this is the one”…well, I got to believe him.

Brian McLean produces kits for the Vector2. It includes the wing cores, the fiddly bits for the wing mechanism, a superb glass fuse and a molded carbon rudder. Everything in the kit is of the highest quality and finish. Looking over the plans I broke it down into building the wings and everything else.;-)  So let’s start with the wings.

The wing cores are cut from surfboard foam. This stuff is dense! I mean solid! These will make a very nice wing. The two panels per side fit together with only a minimum amount of sanding required. Following the plans, I made some cuts in the root for the wing rod and actuator pin. Then attached the root rib. A little more sanding and were ready for bagging.

Most of the wing’s I’ve made have been for DLG’s so making this wing used a LOT more epoxy than what I was used too. A full carbon skin can really soak up the epoxy! Everything’s ready and into the bag it goes. 24 hours later the Mylars come off and I stand back and admire carbon goodness.

Now for the fuselage. Brian’s done an excellent job molding the fuse. There’s plenty of room inside, pre-drilled holes for the wings and stab and a superb finish outside. The rudder fin is molded as part of the fuse so that is the reference for setting the wings and stab.

This is a wingeron so there’s one servo moving the wings. It sits in front of the wing rod and actuates two cams that pivot on the wing rod. The cams are pre assembled and the other bit’s that make up the mechanism are pre cut ready to be installed. Setting the wing servo takes some careful planning. The links connecting to the cams are quite short and need to be positioned correctly to ensure proper movement of the wing. The fuse has marks molded into it showing where to set the wing neutral position. It’s a full flying stab so it’s not SO critical to get the wings exactly on the marks, but it puts the fuse in a pleasing orientation while flying (tail high not low).

The stab mechanism is glued into the fin then the rudder is installed. Trays are glued in for their servos and the linkages are connected. Everything is tested and we’re ready to fly.

I was able to finish building the plane just a week before we headed out to South Dakota for several days of uninterrupted flying. South Dakota is a great place to maiden new planes. Nothing to hit out there.

This was the first time Greg had seen the plane all put together. We set it up in the hotel parking lot to check the throws. Everything looked good so we headed out to the hill. The winds were maybe 10 – 15mph. We had about a dozen guys flying all sorts of craft, most were having success. I handed Greg the radio and stepped up to the lip. A wiggle of the sticks to confirm it was on and a nod from Greg, then I gave it a firm toss….SUCCESS!!  A few clicks of trim and it was FLYING!

Greg worked it back and forth a few times getting a feel for it. It looked great in the air!  The fuse has a sexy shape and I set it up so it has a tail high attitude so it looks like its going fast!  He gained some height and did a short dive followed by the smoothest axial roll you’ve ever seen. A quick roll inverted showed we could take a little weight out of the nose. He brought it around and landed on the top. We had thought this plane would land hot, but it slowed down nicely and settled down into the short grass.

Now it’s my turn! Greg gives it a heave and I fly off into the sky. A left turn then start working the lift to gain altitude. The wind wasn’t what I call rippin’. It’s enough to keep it in the air plus a little more. What surprised me is the way this plane effortlessly responded to the lift. It seemed to fly like it was lighter that it was. It’s not overweight by any means, at 49oz, but I just didn’t expect it to do as well as it was. I was as high as the wind would take me so I put it in a dive and pulled up into a loop. It tracked through the loop like it was on rails!  At the bottom of the loop I pulled up and gained almost all my altitude back! This thing is going to be a favorite. Some fast runs along the top of the hill showed that this plane is silent!  With no servos sticking out of the wing there’s nothing to make noise. It’s almost eerie.

A few more rolls and loops and I setup for a landing. Come around from behind and line it up…It wasn’t as pretty as Greg’s landing but it was level and settled into the grass just fine.

This is going to be a fantastic plane to have in your quiver. Like I said, Brian offers the kits but unless you’re an experienced builder it might not be the kit to start with. Properly built, this plane will perform beyond all expectations.

Bob Completes His 8 Hour Level V Slope Flight

Bob sent in this report on his experiences attempthing the 8 hour, Level V LSF slope task.

April 25th 2009. Frankfort, KY.

I responded to an open invitation to go to Frankfort for an 8 hour slope attempt by Gordy Stahl.

I departed Michigan for Frankfort, KY. Arriving that evening with my Oly2 and an AVA.

I thought long and hard about which one to fly. The Oly is great old sailplane but can it penetrate 20+ mile an hour winds? The AVA has a more modern airfoil and is thinner. I decided to try and put “C” batteries in the fuse just below the wing at the CG as Ballast. The batteries weighed 10 Oz. With dense foam rubber and all It weighted about 11 ounces. Not allot of Ballast but enough I thought. The Oly also had 4 “C” cells installed just behind the leading edge bulkhead. So both were available to me.

Last fall I traveled to Frankfort, Michigan to try the 8 hour at a site called Elberta. It is overlooking Lake Michigan. A beautiful location. Landing is A BIT TOUGH BECAUSE OF THE CLIFF CONFIGURATION WITH LOTS OF TREES. LANDING WOULD HAVE TO BE ON THE BEACH BELOW.

The next morning I met with Larry Story and Ted Grosser both are level 5’s, to witness and help me with my first ever slope attempt. When Larry threw my Oly 2 off the cliff my heart was in my mouth.

It basically flew out over the Lake and just parked out there. Not climbing not moving around allot. I thought wow this is going to be easy! NOT! At around the 6.5 hour mark I became very disoriented.. I could not tell up from down and had a hard time keeping the plane pointed the right direction. I kept turning back towards the slope. Larry explained it was the transparent yellow Monocoat that was causing this. I had planned to recover it in Opaque Monocoat but Did not have the time before departing for Kentucky. So I took blue painters tape and covered the bottom of the wing. Yes it was heavy but I thought that would help. The attempt ended at 7.5 hours. I lost altitude and was unable to recover.

This year, on the morning of April 25th, I met Gordy, Little Lee and Ed Wilson LSF V.P. I had decided to go with the AVA.  I have two AVA’s one with blue tips and a spoiler center panel One with purple tips and a flapped center panel.

We  started hand launching to Trim it out. I had the transmitter on the wrong model. It was on the spoiler panel. Even the rudder servo was working the wrong direction.

After about 6 launches it was ready to go.

At 07:50 Gordy threw it up and out over the cliff. Need less to say it was away, working close to the cliff rim in a figure 8 pattern. It went up with ease.

Gordy launched his Marauder at 8:00. We both are in the air now.The AVA moved around without any effort. I could fly it in any direction. I had made the right choice. It flew very well.

They say only Mad Dog’s and Englishmen sit and stare at the sun. I’m not English….
But for 8 hours? Without any sun blocker? The Mad dog scenario seems to fit well.
Landing at this slope site is wonderful with over  10 acres of grass and a few clumps of trees.

Before it was over more RC slope flyers showed up. The sky was alive with Small little crafts looking like BATS!

I was sitting with Ed Wilson to my right. My butt was fast growing to my chair. Ed had to help me get up to stretch and see if my legs still worked. I was wobbly for the first two minuets each time. I was able to walk to my car for a pee break. It wasn’t to hard to fly and work the plumping one handed. No my shoes are not yellow!

I must say It would not have been doable for me without Ed. He helped me in everyway possible, even putting cold cans of pop on old tired neck, Man did that feel good.

The lift was really good with some thermals working their way thru. At times I was so high that  was afraid to blink. Gordy told me once to get it down form there, I listen when he speaks.

So here I am staring into the sun. Bats flying all over the place and I saw something very unusual a meteorite came flying down brighter then hell! It burned out before my very eyes! Was  this a sign? Who knows? I have never seen a meteor in broad daylight.

Seven hours down one to go! I am now mumbling to my self and yes answering…Delusional? maybe.

At about 8 minutes to go Gordy got distracted and lost his plane. How this happened is not clear to me…or I’ll never say. But his plane crashed on the slope. 8 Minuets short! A very sick feeling came over me, It was sad.

At 4:00 pm I landed. It was not graceful. It was very fast and I lawn darted it. Not real bad and no damage.

It was over! I would have been much happier if Gordy had not crashed.

Gordy tried it again the next day with A supper AVA and batteries installed as I had done. He made it! It wasn’t as easy Sunday because the lift was much weaker, None the less He did it! Over 16 hours of slope flying in two consecutive days, It has to be a world record!

Bob Summers
LSF 3548 IV

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