Monday, 16 December 2013

Extreme air. Sat 14 and Sunday 15 December

Saturday morning saw me up early and heading for East Lomond with my Extreme to get some flying in before the predicted rain arrived.

Early start today
The wind was almost due south (190 deg according to my compass app) and blowing 50+mph. Enough wind then! I stuffed all the ballast in the Extreme and it went like stink in the fairly smooth air, much to the entertainment of the sceptical dog walker who was watching! Fortunately he headed off before I landed for a cuppa. A roller-coaster of an approach although the touchdown was okay. 

Extreme cowering in the lee of East Lomond.
After about an hour I could see the predicted rain heading my way so I high-tailed it back to the car. The wind was getting stronger all the time and the first part of the walk down the hill from the gate with a STRONG crosswind was a chore!!

Sunday morning saw me up Kilspindie for more of the same but slightly less wind although still just a hair west of south and blowing a nice 30+mph. I ended up flying from the well-defined edge 75m south (left) of the trig point and my Extreme was going very well and EM turns were great when I got them right. There was an issue with the low winter sunshine being quite dazzling but by diving under the sun's disk each lap it was okay. My Weasel Evo got some flight time too although the wind strength was about as much as it can cope with. 
East and West Lomond in the distance. Not as gloomy as it looks in this picture
The flights I had with my Extreme at Kilspindie are the best I have had for ages. A good wind on a reasonable slope for a change. It was cold though and my hands were frozen so I tried out my tx cover with the 2.4 antenna inside. I was concerned about range but it seemed to work fine although launching left handed is a challenge for me when it is windy.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Auctherhouse Hill on a gloomy winter day

Auchterhouse Hill is only about a 20 minute drive from my house and I have heard it is used by the local Dundee club. I tried the hill several years ago with a foamie and wasn’t too impressed but decided that the forecast for a south west wind would make it worth a visit with my Extreme.

Snowy Auchterhouse
The ground was frozen hard and there was a covering of snow and when I got to the top after a 30 minute climb I discovered the wind was well round to the west and badly crossed. My Extreme flew ok but the lift was rubbish. There is only a fairly short slope before the hill turns away to the south so not much chance of getting 100m course setup. 

Low cloud and mist hanging around. Kilspindie behind my Extreme.
A grey day.
I landed and walked over the top of the hill past the iron age hill fort hoping there would be a west facing slope but there isn't. Then the snow came on!

However, when the snow stopped the wind swung south west so I headed back to the main slope and gave the Extreme another go. There was more lift this time but well out from the slope and not much close in. There was just not enough of a ridge to get my Extreme going well. 
Extreme with Scotston Hill in the background
By this time I was cold and wet so I headed back to the car. Not the best day’s flying but some interesting winter views. When I got back down the hill I could see that low cloud had descended so I left at the right time. 
Looking back up the hill as I get near the car, Cloud envelopes the top of the hill
I headed home for a cup of tea from my flask which I had left on the kitchen work-top. Muppet!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Frustrating weather

The forecast of very light westerly winds led me to plan climbing Bishop Hill on Sunday but the forecast subsequently changed to suggest the direction could swing north-westerly. So with the possibility of not getting any flying after the big ascent, I headed up Gallow Hill with my trusty Spark. When I got to the parking area near the tv transmitter it was a lovely day with hardly a breath of wind.

Looking south towards Angus transmitter, Dundee, River Tay and Fife. Cracking day for a walk.
I got to the slope to discover it was virtually flat calm, no more than 4mph and from the north-west. Just as well I didn't waste my time and effort climbing Bishop Hill. 

Becalmed on Gallow Hill
Being an eternal optimist I chucked my Spark off and managed a few short flights but there was just not enough lift for it. I had a few walks to retrieve if from the front of the slope and did managed a couple of flights of about 5 minutes but most were very short. I made one interesting discovery though. If you stall the Spark in a turn by flying too slowly it will spin and the resulting decent rate is quite startling! Just got it level before it hit the heather. Fortunately it was nice and soft springy heather! A couple of more short flights and a cuppa and I headed back to the car. Not too disappointing because this hill is not far from home and it was a lovely day for a walk. Met the farmer for for the first time on my drive down the access road and had a long chat with him. Nice chap and wasn't asking me why I was using the private access road through his farm steading which leads to the tv mast!

Monday looked more promising (I had a day off work) with a 15-25mph wind forecast for East Lomond. I met up with Peter at the car park late morning to discover the forecast hadn't mentioned low cloud on the hill. Rain too. We had a cuppa and a chat and were about to pack up and go home but decided to try the low slope to the west of the car park where I have flown my Alula and DLG in the past. Peter's Freestyler proved that the slope worked okay and my Ascot was going quite well too. Promising lift was noticed further out from the edge above a low ridge but any hope of leaning more was quashed when the low cloud descended to our height so we hastily landed to wait for it to clear. It didn't! 
Peter hoping for an improvement in visibility.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Gallow Hill and the Angus transmitter

After a lacklustre performance on my part at yesterday’s F3F Winter League competition I was keen to get out for a fly and more practice. I certainly need it!
The forecast was showing a light north-westerly swinging south by lunchtime so the chances of me getting any flying on West Lomond after a 50 minute drive followed by a 50 minute walk were not high! Unless I set out in the dark that was never going to happen. My alternative was to go to my local north-west slope up at the Angus transmitter. Gallow Hill or Extreme End as I call it. The last time I flew there I totalled (almost) my Extreme! Took months of repairs. So, somewhat cautious I dug out my trusty Spark and headed for the hill. Any thoughts of F3F practice forgotten.

View south to the 750ft Angus Transmitter with Dundee and the Tay Estuary


View south over Dundee and the River Tay to distant East and West Lomond

There was a nice breeze when I loaded the car which still felt ok when I got to the parking area near the huge tv mast although the direction seemed well round to the north. A 20 minute yomp over the moor saw me standing on the nw slope with the wind well crossed to the right and dropped to less than 5mph. A bit more yomping and an inelegant crossing of a barbed wire fence saw me considering the north end of the slope as a launch point. Not much of a slope width-wise although it is certainly high enough. A big heave saw the out-of-trim Spark struggle round a shaky circuit before I landed just down the slope a little. I chickened out from pushing way out from the hill.

View north over Strathmore to the Glens and distant snow covered Cairngorms

Back to the launch point and the very light wind had swung to just west of north and a big heave saw it gently soar away towards the horizon and into some light lift. A few more areas of liftyness were found and the Spark was comfortably high and looking a picture in the cloudless sky. It may be a bit tattered and gained a little weight but it still flies very well. No slouch either. After about 45 minutes the wind ceased altogether but the Spark was happy soaring along finding lift at a good height. A few low passes and back up again looking for more thermals. Grand!! I landed the Spark after just over an hour and headed back home for lunch. Well happyJ

Wind power

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New slope. East Haven and Weasel Evo

With no Northern F3F League event and a dodgy forecast I decided against heading for Kilspindie to fly in what would have been a well crossed south-south east with rain approaching by lunchtime and headed instead for a very low coastal slope at East Haven near where I live. 

Weasel Evo over the beach
East Haven
The slope is barely 2-3 m high and looks most unlikely however I arrived to find a 15-20 mph wind blowing straight onto the beach. Dozens of gulls were showing where the lift was so my trusty Weasel Evo was chucked into the air and it was off! A very narrow band of lift and surprisingly bumpy but good fun as the model scooted along back and forward. Too far out from the slope and the model headed for the waves and too far back from the edge and it was heading for the long grass. It will be worth trying an F3F model because it could be good and I would like to try pumping to gain some speed. My lightweight Weasel doesn't pump very well at all with no inertia to exploit.

The launch point is from the edge in front of where two people can be seen walking along the coastal path.

Oncoming rain drove me back to the car but a successful experiment. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Hole of Horcum last BMFA Summer F3F League

The cancellation of an earlier scheduled event meant a reserve date for the BMFA F3F league was added to the calendar for Sunday 27 October.

With the clocks going back an hour on Saturday night  I had to give some thought to setting my alarm correctly to wake me at 3 am to get me to Peter’s for 3.45 and the trip to the Hole of Horcum picking Mike up on the way. Bonkers, clearly bonkers.

We made good time and arrived in plenty of time for the 8:30 gathering. After some faffing around discussing slopes and wind direction we three Scots headed over to the South Bowl before the wind changed direction and we got going before 10. Just! Quite big winds saw the switched on guys get their models really shifting using much pumping and EM style turns. 

Peter getting his Stinger ready
I put all the ballast (over 1.5 kg) in and the Pike Precision it went really well in the bumpy air particularly in the first two rounds. The wind direction began to swing more to the south west and became more crossed but still flyable. However after a stoppage and a wait to see if the wind direction would change it was decided to call it a day at round 4.
Peter about to launch Mike's Precision
I had great day out in excellent company and I was more than happy with the way my model went although my course flying needs to sharpen up! My landings too because I let my model get blown waaaayy back on one approach and only just avoided landing down the back of the slope which it exactly what happened to Keith Woods and he is a local!! Did I mention it was windy?

Peter and Mike finished well up the field, 4th and 5th respectively and well done to them both. I could have gone better but that is usual for me!! It was great to catch-up with the Horcum regulars and the usual witty banter!

The early finish saw us head to Whitby for fish and chips. Braw!!! (I won’t mention the stop in Berwick for coffee/tea and a snack where one of our crew had a burger and a McFlurry!!)

Thanks once again to Peter for doing all the driving and for providing some completely unintended hilarity when we drove through a huge puddle in the car park at the Forth Bridge. 

Oh, well. It is the start of the winter league on Saturday. Brrrrr....

A cracking F3F weekend.

Our local competition (the last of the summer 2013 league) on Saturday gave me a chance to try my Pike Precision out in competition for the first time and it went really well. I just need to fly it better. A LOT better!! The wind was well round to the south and blowing about 15mph and with no sunshine it was pretty cold.

Mike getting ready to launch Euan's Cyril
Interesting sky. Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh in the distance.



I flew the Precision with just over a kilo of ballast in the wing and it never felt heavy. I was a bit apprehensive in a couple of rounds when the wind dropped quite low but the model kept going well so I was more than pleased.

My Pike Precision in the pits

Unfortunately Dave Watson and Robert Carson couldn’t make it along so we had a fairly small field. I hope they are both up for the start of the winter league which begins in two weeks Brrrr… 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Thermals in the Mist

Saturday was a washout but the Met Office were suggesting Sunday morning would be dry with light winds on the east slope at Kilspindie and so it was. Peter had been planning to head to Eastbourne for a BMFA league event but it was cancelled so we were able to meet up and equipped with a DLG and F3F model each we headed over to the slope. When we got there we found low cloud forming on the slope edge and blowing back over the hill. Moist air condensing in the compression area?

Peter keeping a close eye on his Blaster DLG
We flew our DLGs for a while and they were scooting back and forward close to the slope very well. The cloud tended to thicken at times and we had to keep the models close but it would then blow through and almost clear. It was apparent that overhead and out in front were clear, just the slope and top of the hill in cloud.

We put our F3F models together anticipating it would clear enough to let us have a fly and so it did.  

Peter about to launch his FS4

FS4 in action
Peter had brought along his recently acquired FS4 and it looks very nice in its blue colour scheme; very different from his usual choice. The model certainly looked fast and smooth in the air.

I flew my Pike Precision and it was going well and I am more than happy with the settings Pierre Rondel sent me.
It was interesting to see that occasionally when the wind rose and the lift picked up and the models were fair belting along the slope edge the cloud also seemed to thicken. Almost like Thermals in the Mist!! The reverse of this phenomena almost caught Peter out when the wind died, the cloud disappeared and the lift died completely and it looked like his FS4 was heading for a landout at the bottom of the hill. However over the to the left of the slope, where there was still some cloud, there was still some lift and the FS4 was soon high enough for a hasty landing on top. Good save, phewJ

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pike Precision maiden

After 3 months on the bench my repaired Pike Precision is in the air!

The north-east wind almost tempted me to walk to the slope half-way to West Lomond but I chickened out having never flown there in good air so I pitched up at Putrid Hill on the north side of East Lomond. There is a reasonable area to land with not much rotor. 

At the last minute I had pulled the magnetic switch out of the model yesterday and went for plugging the battery straight into the receiver. I remembered the unexplained crash that had befallen this model in the hands of it's previous owner and that magic switch troubled me! What a woose!! When I was getting ready to fly I discovered the model completely dead. After a much fiddling, cursing etc followed by a cup of tea I spotted the cause. Remember:- Battery wiring only works if Red goes to Red and Black goes to Black. Muppet!!

All setup with Pierre Rondel's settings it flew great. No aileron trim needed just a couple of clicks of down. The first flight without ballast in the 15-20mph wind saw the model tossed around in the bumpy air so I landed and added 520 grams to the wings and it still felt a bit light. Quick though!! EM and reversals both working well. Happy? Absolutely delighted!! Better think about how to paint it now without making it looking worse!!

Landed after first flight. Nice.
Yes, it is a small grainy picture but I took it while I was flying the model on it's third flight of the day. Lucky it is easy to fly!
I was joined early on by Mike who I met briefly at the last comp and he flew his Blaze and a bitza F3F type mouldie. Nice to see a new face.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

F3F Reserve date East Lomond 5 Oct

We had the first competition on East Lomond for a long time and I had a great day out. With Peter away for the weekend we had to cope on our own and by putting our heads together we managed. Just!

Distant Firth of Forth, Bass Rock and Berwick Law in the early morning light. 

Thank goodness we didn't climb up Bishop Hill!

Dave Watson caught me crowing through with my Ascot.

Dave Watson caught Mike's Precision diving down on the slope.

Craig's Skorpion showing a few war wounds in another of Dave's pictures

My Ascot shows it's bottom in another of Dave's pictures

 A great day out despite the small turnout and I was pleased with the way my Ascot went. If I could fly consistently it would help!

We had an interesting first at lunchtime when a family group arrived to watch us fly. They had been up the top of the hill to scatter their husband/father/grandfather’s ashes into the wind. A lifetime model glider pilot put to rest in his favourite place. Some of the family had come from Hong Kong and were keen to have a fly of the Zagis they had brought along which they did as we had a lunch break. Touching.

 Lunchtime photo

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weekend 21-22 Sept East Lomond and Kilspindie

I wasn't able to go to the Welsh Open this year :( but I was determined to get some flying in if the weather cooperated.

On Saturday the forecast was for s/w winds so I headed up East Lomond for the first time in ages and it still looks just the same! It was pretty gloomy on the slope with heavy overcast skies but it stayed dry and the wind was around 20-25mph. An early start saw my Extreme in the air by 10 o'clock and at that point the wind was well south of south-west and my Extreme was going well with most of the ballast in.

Extreme and gloomy skies
I had to be home for lunch and my last flight was just before 12 by which time the wind had swung more south west and had become quite bumpy with not a lot of lift. It confirmed my opinion that East Lomond works best in south, south west wind. Once it swings round and comes over Bishop it gets less lifty and quite bumpy.

Sunday morning saw me head for Kilpsindie and it was a lovely day up there. Quite warm and a 25-30mph sw wind swinging round to west by the time I was once more heading home for lunchtime.
Self portrait of me and Extreme.
I spent a bit if time tweaking the aileron differential and elevator throws but don't seem to have made much difference!
Low cloud on East Lomond. Just as well I stayed away on the low slopes at Kilspindie!


When I got home I had time to put the Precision together for the first time. Needs receiver fitted and then it will be test flight time. Paint will follow. Later!!

Looks ok from a distance!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

F3F called-off. Sport fly on NW slope at West Lomond

Peter called the first reserve F3F competition on but unfortunately only four of us turned up at the Craigmead car park so not enough people for a race. The weather forecast looked promising with a dry sunny day and light north west winds predicted and so it was. On the slope the wind started out about 15mph and rose to about 25 and the air was just silky smooth. Fantastic!
Peter's Freestyler off on test flight
Peter was able to try out his recently repaired Freestyler and it went as well as ever. He pulled some very tight turns illustrating he importance of getting the cg in the correct place! Peter's Stinger also got some airtime in the fabby lift. It really is a great slope and well worth the longish walk (no significant climb though!).

Robert getting ready to launch Dave's Cyril
Cyril away
Dave flew his Cyril and it went like stink as usual; this model seems a great all-rounder and always goes well. Aerobatic too!

This was Robert's first visit to this slope and he was well impressed and compared it to Bishop after he had been tearing up the sky with his P3.

Robert's P3

I flew my Ascot with 450g of wing ballast and it went really well. EM style turns seemed to work best but I need to learn how to string 9 turns together.

We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers

I would have been a great day for a competion with nice smooth predicable air.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Carrot Hill in very light south easterly

I took my DLG out for a walk from Carrot Hill to Dodd Hill and had fun trying to find light slope lift off the gentle slope looking towards the river Tay. With some thermal assistance I had many enjoyable flights although not all landings were very elegant!
Just after I arrived at Dodd Hill I heard a distant roar and saw what I assume to be the Red Arrows departing Leuchars after the display on Saturday. Could be the last time they are there?
Distant view of Red Arrows taking off from Leuchars

You can just make out the planes having turned off their smoke.

Longshot having a rest.
Leason learned. I discovered that if you fly the Longshot for more than 90 minutes the rx battery gives up!! Thank goodness for nice soft bracken/heather!