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Monday, January 07, 2008

R/C model DG 500 Elan makes history

updated 10/1/08

The posts quickly ended before we got to thirteen (I am not superstitious) but the maiden flight on post no 13? I wasnt going to take any chances anyway here is the whole story .

A group of us went down to Volksrust from the 2nd of January 2008 until the 6th my intention was to maiden a HILL BILLY a JART give my SWIFT-S1 its second flight and finally maiden the DG500 ELAN which at 7.4mtrs and 16kg ,we believe is the largest model glider flying in South Africa at present but we stand to be corrected .

Conditions most days were good in the afternoons with some flying in the mornings between lulls generally with light gliders or electric assisted soarers,this allowed us to fly everyday and for the first time , I flew from the Eastern point , the northern point both with small lift bands and patchy lift , and tricky landing areas (ok for foamies).
Friday saw Charl and Peter join Piet and myself as well as ,Glen from Pinetown and Herman and Izak from ETB. During the day some "other" pilots also flew from the southern slope with us.The day started out with the mountain top in the mist and only Izak dared fly in these conditions keeping his Zaggi at extremely close range.
I decided to set up the DG 500 so it could be checked out , fortunately Andries from ETB popped past on his way home to show off his extremely well detailed ASW 29 complete with pilot, detailed cockpit and working retract with wheel brake coupled to the airbrakes a real craftsman and I asked him to also check out the DG.
At this time I had a few concerns 3 actually and was curious to see what others would pick up. These guys all questioned the same things so I felt better.
They were
1. are you happy with the springs on the rudder closed loop system(a bit soft I had thought) I had bought stronger ones so decided to swap to these.
2. are you happy with the tailplane incedance, I had checked at home and felt it looked wrong although it had been set at zero-zero when I built the fuselage, by moving the postion of the tailplane slightly forward it had raised the leading edge, I had rechecked it and reshaped the saddle area to bring the leading edge down by 2mm back to zero-zero. So this was now ok.
3. The joiners had been bonded in so they would fit between the wing skins, in hindsight I could easily have added a few more degrees dihedral and they would still have had space so the wing
only has a small dihedral and this is one thing I cant change.

The group who checked out the DG500 included Andries J.G. from from ETB a skilled scrath builder of large scale gliders, Piet R. from Berg an experienced glider pilot of many, many years, Peter K and Charl V. both glider pilots of both full size and models, none of this group had any concerns and all agreed the glider was ok to fly.
The control throws and radio range were checked, but as I had no intention of flying it off the southern slope, a photo session ensued, were upon it was taken apart and packed away.
Later I maidened a new Hill billy which is for Blake my son and also my Red Jart see the video on the Jart blog., both flew fine.

Saterday dawned with signs that the wind had again shifted ,more Northerly so things started looking more promising for the DG500. When we arrived on top of the hill the wind was very light but blowing slightly from the north and not generating much lift.
The ETB guys had some fun launching their discuss hand launch gliders directly into the light thermals that came through Piet "bless him" set up his bungee and attempted to launch his 20year old gentle lady into the lift. Charl (Mr punchout) flew his electric as did Peter with his Hawk , surprising Peter logged nearly an hours flying time in these conditions.
At about 14-00 hours the wind swung straight onto the slope and picked up to gusts of 20kmh, some bigger ships seemed to stay up no problem so I gave the JART a flight it really zooms around the sky and at this stage all of us had gliders in the sky, including my son Blake
who stood next to me proudly launching and flying his Zaggi on his own, he now needs to get some stick time so he can advance to his Hill billy.

At about 16-00 hours the wind was good and very bouyant so I decided to fly the SWIFT to test the air. The original wing joiner had gone missing so for this trip I used a substitute which has no carbon in it , anyway after Charl gave it the heave , I was walked back up to the top as it continued to gain impressive height, when settled on top I decided to start decending as it was at speck height, on one of these passes the rudder started fluttering and made a big noise, as I fed in some up to slow things down the rudder broke free, the left wing realising big sh..t was about to happen decided to abandon ship . The fuselage realised at this time it was in deep cr..p and it was best to make a dive down and hide amongst the rocks well away from the pilot who started this whole chain of events ,which it promptly did way down the slope.

Blake and I went to recover the pieces, visible in the centre of the photo and I am amazed at how little damage it suffered, the wings have some minor delamination, the stabilizer is fine ,the fin and rudder was ripped of on impact and two tears in the glass at the nose, the servo tray broke free and the wing joiner is weekends work and it will fly again.

At this time I decided the wind was right and proceeded to assemble the DG500 and give it some final checks. Peter and I walked to the edge and discussed the plan of action should an outlanding be required, we both agreed the wheat fields aproaching from left to right was the best bet, I prepared a pair of binoculars in case we needed a spotter, those fields are a small target from the top.

The range was checked again and the team discussed the plan of action ,we then moved forward for some final photos.

Double click on the photos for a full screen shot

From left to right yours truely, Peter with his cap in launch position, Charl all 6feet plus of him , Glen glider and Piet the official photographer.
The brewing storm can be seen in the background.

The team took up their position and I suddenly needed to adjust the rudder this was probably due to the stronger springs, Charl looked back for the go ahead now the last two segments of my arial had suddenly collapsed inwards...was this a sign ...hell no I was not aborting at this stage out with the insulation tape a quick bind and we were good to go, I gave Charl the thumbs up and he started lifting the heavy glider as it came up it started lifting, Peter on the right wing let go Charl started pushing out, Glen who because of his age and perhaps seperation anxiety decided to play last touch (sorry Glen I would never tease the guy who spot landed on my park flyer breaking off its tail).. Anyway the DG pulled slightly left I pulled the sticks right and they leveled in less than 5 mtrs of flight, the glider flew straight out no drop in altitude as per my Ventus.

The usual suspects all cheered behind me as I gained height which was no problem.
Glen walked me back up and I settled down , the only trim was three clicks of up at launch,
I did some passes hands off and she tracked straight and true, dual aileron rates speeded up the turns and deploying flap almost stops this gracefull beast in its tracks with a small nose down decent, what a relief no ballooning up.
A glance behind showed the storm getting closer so I shouted landing and asked everyone not to take their eyes of the glider, I started my approach much higher than normal and the final decent with full flap the DG continued downwards not gaining speed, once again the Blesbok grazing took one look upwards and bolted fortunately to the side and safety , I closed the flap and the nose lifted ,the chorus behind me rang out nose down ...nose down who am I to argue out went the flaps again and a smooth touch down at my feet. Total flying time about 8 minutes.
The agony of the SWIFT now replaced with the Exhileration of a safe maiden flight.

My thanks to the team who assisted with the first flight, plans for something bigger who knows but I really wish to fly more in 2008 than build, also some Ideas about glider to glider in flight video I would like to try , as well as ,assist some other pilots get their big ships into the air, Peter? Charl?

mission accomplished.
Mike May

PS Piet provided the fight photos, as it is launched and landing sequence.

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