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RAFMAA Slope Comp

AND THEN THE SUN CAME OUT. (Parlick Jul 2014)


From a personal point of view the last few months have been somewhat of a nightmare. First we lost the use of our local flat field site, RAF Barkston Heath, and then my slope soaring club, Sheffield Society of Aero modellers (SSA) effectively lost the use of Callow Bank. Negotiations are currently underway to allow future use of these sites but I think it wise not to hold my breath too long. A particular “hobby horse” of mine has been the fact that over the years the greater majority of clubs have had the use of flying sites purely on the “nod” or through the goodwill of other parties, usually at a small rent.


My belief is that these days are over and clubs should strive to either buy or ensure the long term use of their sites. MOD sites are becoming much harder to obtain and those that are available usually command the payment of a commercially equivalent rent (For that read expensive).


So with all this doom and gloom in the vicinity what was needed was a good thrash off a hill. Cue call to fellow member of the NNAWGC, Colin and the picking of suitable dates to beat a path to the Lancastrian slopes of Parlick. My good lady and I drove up from Lincolnshire on the Friday leaving as usual about 1800hrs. This late departure was to miss the rush hour traffic around Manchester and treat the girl to a good meal at the OK Diner on the A1. I know how to show a lass a good time.


Saturday 26 Jul 14.


The day dawned bright and clear with a gentle breeze from the SSW, so with suitable light models we set fourth for Parlick. With the morning temperatures in the mid twenties and with a high level of humidity, shorts and tee shirts were the order of the day. The ascent however, was a shock to my system not having climbed up Parlick for some time. Eventually Neil “the Sloth” (Sofaworks TV advert) arrived at the top trailing somewhat behind Colin, the hyper active mountain goat, and after a suitable recovery period flying commenced.


Models flown were Mini-Milans, Speedo, Alula, Weasel and Solange. We were joined by a friend of Colin’s, Barry who had been enticed over to the dark side of slope soaring when Colin gave him his old Zagi which led to him picking up a reasonable priced Speedo as a second model.


Also on the hill were the para-gliders who were launching from slightly above us prior to them departing around the corner into the large North Western bowl.


Following lunch the wind veered slightly to the west so we followed around to the western slope by the Dry stone wall. Usually this wall provides shelter from the cold wind and rain, however, it was noticeable that out of the wind the strength of the sun was considerable which required us to stand in front of the wall to cool down. Ye Gods........ the need to cool down on the slope, what is the world coming to?


So with copious amounts of sun block we three continued to fly throughout the afternoon prior to departing at about 1730hrs so as to take the ladies for an Italian meal out in Garstang, a perfect end to a very satisfying days flying.


Sunday 27 Jul 14.


The wind had increased over Saturday’s level with slight rain in the morning, but not to be perturbed, we hot footed off to Parlick again to the Westerly slope by the dry stone wall.


This time my climbing performance was much improved in that I almost managed to keep up with Colin. However, in Colin’s defence it must be pointed out that he easily managed the climb with his normal large rucksack..... two transmitters and five models - A Midge, Wanabee, Jart, Luna and a Weasel. ..... Me? I only had a Jart, Midge and Speedo.


Shortly after arriving we were joined by another gentleman whose name shamefully escapes me (old brain cells) (Andrew (Ed)) who had with him a very nice Salto from the Fly Fly kit. This flew most impressively on several occasions and also proved to be quite durable following some less than prefect arrivals.


As Colin was tearing up the slope with his latest Midge (15) I prepared my version of Colin’s Midge design for its test flight. I had made a few cosmetic changes, mainly to the wing span and plan form. I had also installed a receiver with a three axis gyro with which I had wavered long and hard during the installation with ensuring correct orientation and gain. I must admit that I was very wary of the first flight as you could take off with the gyro switched off and activate it during the flight. However, to turning the gyro on was easy, but to turn the thing off you had to land and switch off the receiver.


The first flight was undertaken and the model roughly trimmed. It was found to be slightly sensitive to the controls which following the dive to check the C of G confirmed that the model was tail heavy.


The Midge was landed and given some extra nose weight and relaunched. The C of G was now much better so with thoughts of unleashing an uncontrollable monster in the back of my mind the gyro system was activated. The result was an absolute anti-climax. Initially it felt that an extra amount of exponential had been dialled in as the controls felt just a bit softer around the neutral. The big difference was that the Midge now seemed to ignore all the little deflections and air movements flying with a sense of being locked on course such was the auto stabilisation effects of the Gyro.


Aerobatics were tried and the difference was quite marked. Hesitation rolls held their heading much better, flick and quick axial rolls stopped exactly where you wished. Of course I can’t use this system in an aerobatic competition…………………………!



In the interest of comparison and differing opinion, I asked Colin to try a flight, initially launching with the system off and later activating it in flight. I think that he was of the same opinion as me in that whilst it could not fly a model by itself the gyro certainly made the model cut through the turbulence and look like it was flying on rails. I nearly had to prise the transmitter away from him with a crowbar, he had a big grin on his face and mutter something like the word… “Awesome”. Once we finished with the Midges and as the wind had increased slightly it was time to unleash the Jarts.


Now for those new to our ramblings the Jart model moves…. ripping up the slope into a different league. We enjoy them so much that we both built a second version, hence the sticker on mine declaring that “ my other model is a Jart “. Certainly the time we spent making a mould was not wasted. So the flying continued thus until after a slight interlude of Weasel mayhem and diving attacks on the dry stone wall, we retired slightly worn and sunburnt but extremely happy.



Monday 28 Jul 14.


A slight breeze from the South East. As I wasn’t due back at work until Tuesday we have broken with tradition and stayed over Sunday night. Colin being a mate had decided that he have to act as guide and had taken a day’s holiday.


Once again the slog up Parlick was undertaken with minimal clothing and lightweight models, two Weasel, two Mini-Milans and an Alula. Of course the climb was prolonged with the need to reach the South East slope.


Colin was first away with his Mini-Milan in the very slight drift that was passing as wind at that moment. I joined in with my Mini-Milan and made a complete cock up of the launch tearing the tail off.


Some days you start things that you wish you had left alone, so as Colin was having fun and I wished to join him I carried out a repair of which I certainly was not very proud. Bodge jobs never work and the subsequent next flight resulted in more damage. The only solace I can take for this display of stupidity was that now I had the opportunity to carry out the much delayed mid-life model refit that I had been avoiding for the past two years.


Colin displayed the DLG launching technique that was possible with the Alula and its ability to thermal upon the “excess flatulence of an earthworm” was certainly evident. We then spent a while just throwing off the Weasels and Alula, sometimes walking part way down the hill to retrieve and sometimes escaping to great height in the passing thermals.


As is usual in these testing but very rewarding conditions I pushed the envelope just a bit too far and flew my Weasel down the hill in an attempt to find that thermal that would elevate the model to greater heights, but the model just flew to the point of R/C range, whereupon it disappeared from sight.


As the Weasel seemed to be in an area that was on the way to the car we stayed at the top for a short while until the lack of wind and the need to meet up with the ladies and appease them with a good lunch called an end to the flying. Upon our descent we stayed apart and the missing Weasel was quickly found unusually much higher up the hill than was originally thought.


Once again a very good few days spent flying our models in good company with the added bonus of exceedingly good weather. In the near future the time table is quite busy what with the forthcoming RAFMAA Main Championships and the BMFA Nationals.


So until the next adventures of the NNAWGC, keep the models in the blue and out of the green.


Neil T.



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