Improve you flying!
"It is a bit like the BMFA Achievement Scheme without the pressure of needing to pass"
There are many good club flyers out there, and for you to have your manoeuvres judged by a trained eye is a very small step. A competition is really the wrong term for our arranged gatherings, other than for our top pilots perhaps. For the rest of us it is a way of assessing how we fly and how we can improve our flying. It is a bit like the BMFA Achievement Scheme without the pressure of needing to pass. The only pressure will be self inflicted, but then only if you want to gain promotion to a higher class (a more difficult schedule). The only person interested in criticising your flying will be you, unless you ask for help.
All model fliers are happy to pack their models away, without damage, after a flying session and look forward to the next time. During that flying session some club members will be quite happy to have steered their model through the air, avoid loosing it or hitting the ground or that favourite tree, and land without damage. That's fine, but if you want to progress you have to be determined the change the way you fly. Try flying from one end of your airspace to the other. To start with you will be happy to turn the model back towards the field at one end, but then immediately you will need to be thinking about turning it again at the other end. The bit in between the two 'turn round manoeuvres' is less important at this stage, but when you feel ready, try to do a loop or roll somewhere in the middle, do not try to do too much at this stage.
A club member comments: "I found one of the most difficult transitions to make was when, because of restrictions on our field, we had to change from going round in circles to flying from one end to the other. Having to do a turn round manoeuvre at each end was frightening, but it was the first step in controlling my aircraft so that the model was doing exactly what I wanted it to do throughout the whole flight. It took a lot of practice, and much of the time I was outside my comfort zone. It was still very important to take the model home without damage, so all new manoeuvres were done with plenty of height".
I suppose most flyers have a go at some aerobatics every time they fly. The object of this 'help page' is to encourage all to do intentional manoeuvres safely when you want to do them, and accurately in a way that they can be repeated.
So where do I start:-
You may want to join the Great Britain Radio Control Aerobatic Association now.
Link to membership application form
There are some very basic aeromodelling hints and tips here: North Anston Society of Aeromodellers web site. (Choose Hints and Tips from the menu on the home page). If you look at Page 2, it has a copy of the GBR/CAA leaflet given out at the 2005 British National Championships, which suggests you start to practice aerobatics with the model you are flying at the moment.
You have got the model, are you ready to take on a challenge?
Before you start your engine, pick a line on your field 150 metres out, then take a line from your standing position at 60º on each side of your centre line. That will give you a line some 260 metres long either side of the centre line. This is the 'line' you fly on. The 'box' you fly in is made up of this line say at 15 metres high for the bottom line and the top line at a maximum of 60º angle from the pilots position. Fly close and your box becomes smaller, fly further out and you enlarge the box, but your scores will be downgraded if you fly too far away.
This is the typical layout you will find at competition venues.
Your engine is ticking over at the end of the runway having been adjusted for reliable flight and with a full tank or fully charged battery. Take off as soon as you are comfortable, make sure your feet are firmly ‘planted’ on the ground, slightly apart, square to the centre line with your transmitter aerial, near vertical, on the centre line. As you fly, turn only your head to follow the model.
Now, remember that imaginary line 150 metres out. Fly that line whatever the wind direction with a simple turn round manoeuvre at each end. Try straight and level passes at a height of say 50 feet and again at 150 feet in both directions. Then do the same inverted, practice with plenty of height, only reducing the height at which you fly when you feel more comfortable and yes! there will be times when you are out of your comfort zone. As time goes by, aim for your wings to be level at all times, correction for the wind should be done with rudder, not by leaning the model into wind with aileron control.
The next step is to try to incorporate a centre manoeuvre. On the centre of this imaginary line try a loop or a roll. Aim for round loops and axial rolls. The centre of the loop at the top and bottom should cross the centre line of the box, and a roll should finish the same distance past the centre line as it started. One of the main difficulties to start with is applying too much up elevator to start the loop, which results in a loop which is significantly down wind of the centre line. With rolls, when straight and level, ailerons are the first control to apply, (not up elevator) then introduce opposite rudder (to aileron just applied) to hold the model on the line, replacing rudder with down elevator, then slowly reducing down elevator and applying opposite rudder as the model rolls through 270°, finish the roll with wings level on the 'bottom line'.
The shape of the figure you are a trying to trace in the sky is the important factor, not the attitude of the model. So flying into wind, a vertical line will only be held if you angle the fuselage into that wind. If you kept the fuselage straight, the line being flown will not be vertical as the model we get blown down wind as it climbs.
Get one of your club members to count you down to the centre line to complete the central manoeuvre, (3,2,1,Go), pull into the manoeuvre on hearing the ‘G’ of go). Getting someone to help like this may just encourage them to have a go as well. Could this be your first competition? Not a bad idea, on a field that you are familiar with and with someone you know?
When practicing a schedule, take off, complete the schedule and land. If you mess up an manoeuvre carry on to the next one, do not be tempted to go over the same manoeuvre again, you will not be able to do this in competition. If manoeuvres need to be practiced separately, take of and complete the manoeuvres you need to practice and land. Each time you fly, set a routine to prepare for the flight and for starting your engine. Always follow the same procedure so that when you get to a competition all you need to do is concentrate on your flying. Ask a more established competitor to call for you, but explain what you would like them to do. Calling the next manoeuvre, calling centres and advising on the box is probably the minimum you will require, but do tell your caller how you want them to help you during your flight, before you take off.
The Association have arranged several 'New Pilots Open Days' (NPODS) around the country. An invitations goes out for club fliers to practice manoeuvres in front of experienced aerobatic flyers to receive some feed back and coaching on their flying. It is all very relaxed and progress is geared to the ability of the pilot. If you wish to organise one of these days at your club please let us know and we will do our best to help. It is always difficult to pass on general advice on how to improve a pilots flying until we are stood beside them, however with the experience of visiting clubs, the following list may help the interested club flyers to move forward.
The following are observations from the NPODs or comments made by club flyers:
Comment: The first time I visited a competition I was amazed to see everyone's engine started straight away and no one really had any problems - they just fly, no fiddling with engines. This is an important aspect of trouble free flying. Most models suffer damage due to unreliable engines. Proper installation, proper cooling, use the correct fuel and time taken to make the correct adjustments both on the high and low setting is essential. Don't expect a lower priced four stoke to perform the same as one made for F3A aerobatics, but make all adjustments and run the engine within it's manufacturers recommendations. Also if your engine is not powerful enough the fly big manoeuvres, reduce the size of manoeuvres to make the best of the power you have available.
Comment: Aren't the big four strokes quiet?
Observation. With the engine stared most pilots rush to take off and then rush into the manoeuvres. Take your time, think about what you are going to do and use all the space available.
Comment: I suppose it is good to practice flying straight and level and not always straight into wind like we do at our field.
Comment: (after watching a demonstration schedule) You do fly much further way than we normally do.
Ready to take aerobatics one stage further - click here!