6/10/08

Sunday June 8: Gusts Ruin Safety Day





We recently decided to sharpen up our safety procedures at Lakeville. Basically, this has involved reading the wind speed/direction, estimating the likely flight time of the model, and calculating where your model will likely hurtle to earth.

The idea is that you then launch in an appropriate spot. The trouble is, being optimists, we imagine long and majestic flights regardless of conditions, with our precious models landing over in the bee field, or at the end of a long walk towards Tubb's Island.

Doesn't happen

Anyway, we had got a bit lax, so I took a big fluttery windsock/ribbon and a couple of reflectors, marking off the magic distance of 100 feet from the parked cars. I had a safety manifesto to read too. Well of course the wind was blowing steadily out of the northwest and it was impossible to hit anything other than grass.

So we tried to cope with the wind instead of the new safety rules.

Mike flew at least five different models with great success and about three miles walking. This included the stick with a prop at each end which I think managed the highest flight of the day.

Gale flew the orange monster fearlessly, while Jerry, George and I tried our new catapult gliders, mistakenly called "Straight Up." We discovered that when you let go the catapult, the glider hurtles up into a vicious spiral and actually disappears behind your head. So we missed a lot of flights completely.

The wind didn't help. Neither did the color of the gliders. So we spent a lot of time searching for straw colored models in straw colored straw. We've decided to try again with dayglo wingtips and less wind.

We actually had fun, laughed a lot, ate Phobe's excellent brownies, drank bottled water from a glacier and watched the new safety windsock/ribbon actually fly upwards.

Nick Kelez very kindly let me know that a number of cars parked together produces some kind of protective force field of air that actually softens the blow from an overwound Moth in a death spiral. I was tempted to ask him if he ever found the shards of an exploded four bladed plastic prop from the time my Skyraider dived at maximum speed into the trunk of his VW, but I wisely didn't.

There was a touching moment towards noon, when I asked Ed to help me out with a hand carved prop and freewheel arrangement for a new big rubber model. Ed was briefly overcome with emotion when he realized that someone had asked him for advice.

Dave tried to fly his Island Flyer, but the wind made it tough to trim effectively. He did get lucky earlier when the Highway Patrol let him go. They had pulled him over with another bike that they said was clocked at 87. I asked Dave what he was doing. "About ***."

So there you have it, a fun if windy day in sunny California. Nothing better.

And lucky for us it is immortalized in Kerry's pictures. Thanks Kerry.

3 comments:

flyin_brian said...

I stayed home because of the forecast of breezy conditions.
But after reading Toms incredibly optimistic descriptive, I now wish I had gone, even if it was blowin',
just to enjoy the company.

And RE: the straight up glider, it shouldnt actually be launched pure vertical, but rather tilted a bit forward...perhaps 4 degrees inclination, while facing the wind.
Catapult gliders are a lot of fun, I want to build some more.
Anyone have any plans??

planecrazy said...

I wasn't there either, but as usual, I guess I'll "have" to toss in my "two bits worth" (it used to be "two CENTS worth", but you know, with inflation and all!!).
I agree with Brian that something less than "vertical" when launching catapault gliders usually works out best, 'though I would suggest more like 45 to maybe 70 degrees from the horizontal, depending on the design and the way a particular model is trimmed. I've found this to be true with the Jim Walker folding wing "Interceptor" gliders also. The Oakland Cloud Dusters have made "Cats" kind of one of their club "specialties" for years. They even have a special version they fly once a year or so that involves a setup with a large stake and a REALLY BIG rubberband!! They build special models for this setup (stronger!!).I've only seen those fly once, and I must admit they were VERY impressive! Bordering on downright SCARY!!
As for color schemes for "Cats" or HLG's also, I too discovered many years ago that all-balsa was not only bad for finding in the dry grass, but also bad for overhead visibiliy as well (in thermals). I eventually settled on using spray-can fluorescent paint - usually pink or orange - on the top of the wingtips and stab and both sides of the tips of the vertical fin. I also found that one very light coat of sprayed BLACK (or other VERY dark color)dope, or alternatively, spray can lacquer, on the bottom of the wings (only) made a HUGE difference in overhead visibility. You would be AMAZED at how much more visible a small HLG will be from underneath at altitude with the black underwings!!
"Keep 'um flyin'!!" - Kermit

Dave W. said...

I guess it was Safety Day for the CHP, too. They were pulling people over all over the place. When you write that I was going "about ***" people might think I was doing 130, but actually I was only going a little faster than that other bike. The officer was very nice to give us a warning. He looked at his radar gun and said, "It could have been worse, could have been worse."