Because this Blog is updated regularly it is a good idea to visit at least once a week so as not to miss anything. If however you are not a regular visitor, please use the archive links, at the bottom of the side bar on the right, to view postings that have moved off the main page. Or type a key word in the search block in the black bar at the top left and click on "SEARCH BLOG" and it will take you to the posting within our Blog. (For instance, type "Jart" and all the post that mention Jart will open) The Label at the bottom of a post can also be used. Click to get all posts with the same label together!
This BLOG is best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024x768. Click here to get instructions on how to adjust your monitor to these settings.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Business as usual (BERG field at home)

Len Thomas Launches his electric glider.

With the December holidays now beginning the numbers of BERG members turning out on Sunday has dropped somewhat. It could also be due to the overcast skys that we had, but in the end we had 5 members, and one visitor on Sunday.

However we had a great days flying with high humidity and a light to moderate wind that made the air good for thermal activity and reasonable lift to be found during the course of the day.
Tony and his 2 meter Tsotsi on the left.

Later in the day Johan and Lorain joined us and both had a good few flights.
I managed to repair my Makulu and trim it out for next Sunday’s HTL at Heidelberg and last thermal competition for the year on The RSA calendar.

I hope to post a report and some pictures on this event next Sunday.

Your Pel
Piet Prepetation

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My New Electro-Zagi

I just wanted to share with you my now completed new "Electro-Zagi"
As a design criteria I have obviously diverted from the "Simple-Zagi" construction intention.
The Flaperons are in RFG and with a slight negative profile (upwards).
the motor is a Kotronic-Fun-400-23 brushless, with a 5.5x4.5 prop (pusher)
3s lipo 2200mA and a Smile 46-6-12 regulator.
The winglets are of carbon cloth and balsa.
The entire plane weight is 1460gr....hmmmm ..... quite heavy! Next weekend I will try to find a "Brave" man to chuck this in the air!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

F3B team trails at Groen Goud

The flight line At Groengoud on Saturday

The Team selection for next years F3B word Championships took place on Saturday. After a lot of rain recently the weather turn out just about perfect on the day. The BERG team managed 5th (Derek) and myself in 8th place .
A full report will be posted this week on the RSA F3B blog. During the day I managed take a some pictures for the BERG blog.
I had to stop flying in Round 6 after I lost elevator authority due to a dislocate pin on the V tail and only just managed to land safely after a 3 min struggle to get the glider down.

The CD for the event (Evan Shaw).

The ETB team and Paul Carnal doing a Small repair during the day.

Center line judge for the speed run (Rudy King)

The light signaling box used for speed and distance.

Unfortunately started to signal randomly in round 6 but we managed to see the last round

Craig Goodrum launching Deon's F3B Glider for a speed run

Many thanks to all my helpers from BERG Johan, Lauraine, Rudolf ,Klaus and all the Other helpers at base B for signaling. Without their help we could not have run the Trails.

Also to Martie for providing lunch, cold drinks and snacks during the day.

Thanks once again Ladies and Guy's .

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Long before the hype of the first PSS slope event at Volksrust , I started scratch building an Old Timer design from 1937. and recently got back with this build.

This is all wood and traditional style building being a nice change from epoxy/glass construction used on modern models.
The intention is to fly this grand old plane with a brushless electric motor for clean , quite relaxed flying. Piet has now also come across to the dark side.
The project is almost complete and she should be ready to fly on the next outing.

Many oldtimer plans are available free on the internet , and these aircraft are good flyers and with built in stability and light wing loadings they really float and in competitions overseas with limited engine runs many fly impressive durations in thermals .

It has now flown and was easy to trim and fly , even as a rudder/elevator only , the electric motor climbs it at about 45 degrees and it maintains altitude on 1/3 rd throttle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The “Spark side of Life”

I guess you can call me “Spark Piet” now as well because sooner or later the jump was going to happen. After flying Tony's E-Tsotsi in the Nats this year and the seeing Mike and Gordon’s efforts, it was enough to push me over the hill to the “Spark side of Life”.

But the Electric aircraft that impressed me the most was E-flight’s “ Mini Pulse” by Horizon Hobby’s and that Paul Carnal few regularly before and after intervals at thermal completion’s and also at the slope when the wind did not blow.

After phoning around to most hobby shops and to my disappoint found that this AFR model was not freely available. So the itch to buy subsided a bit until 2 weeks ago when I walk in to Ariel
Concepts Shop. I did no need anything in particular (had a hour spare before a appointment with a client) and was just browsing around. Then suddenly in front of me there it was the E-flight Mini Pulse and before you could say “Bob’s your uncle” the Box was under my arm, the last 2 zeros of the prize tag ignored, and on my way to the till.

The box that start it all.

You can assemble the Mini Pulse in 3 hours and it is really a good quality kit.
However no sooner you have finished putting it all together, you realize that it is not going to fly until you buy all the electrics to get it air born.

At this stage you start asking questions about electric motors, props ,lipo batteries,
Electronic speed controllers and so more. The Pulse kit do not in clued the electric motor but they recommend a e-flight 450, but after talking to Paul found out that he use a e-flight 480 mainly because of the high felt height above see level.

I then phone MAD models and they recommended that I had a look at the scorpion range of brush less motors. So now I landed myself in the deep end of “Spark” side.

Fortunately I found a very good software application (Motocalc 8) on the web and this help me with the selection of the motor, speed control and batteries. If you are interested you can go to this link.

The end result of all this was that on Sunday the Mini Pulse took to the air and to say the least it did just what I expected. I got in 5 Flights and the vertical performance of this model was just phenomenal. I still have a lot to learn but don’t mind if when you see me again call me “Spark Piet”

New Members Johan and Loraine maiden their gliders on Sunday. That’s the way, well done.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I now also do DLG

Pirouette practice evident - Lionel Smith's DLG launch sequenceAlan Smith flying with his wife Juanita timing and spotting for him.Last Saturday afternoon the F3K guys gathered at the Groen Goud Gliding Club field to fly the WAG (World Air Games) 3rd and final qualifier. Lionel Brink acted as observer (with some great observation commentaries) and Mark Stockton was CD. Full results and Lionel's report on the MGA blog.

Very interesting repair job on Gary Grainger's modelThe Weather was less than ideal for DLG flying – we started the contest just after a thunderstorm had blown through so the air was a little flat and heavy with a fair breeze blowing through. The seven contestants had an extremely challenging time and not many flights exceeded three minutes.

Lionel Smith put my Salome together for me a few weeks ago and I set up the transmitter programming during the week before. Test flying was carried out on the Friday afternoon before the contest and it flew perfectly. However, I very quickly realised that I had some serious practice to do on the launching part. I could manage the test flight “soft” launches ok but when it came to putting everything into it for the big launches, my legs just tied themselves into knots. Even on the contest day I did a few unorthodox launches with extra turns and sometimes not letting go at the right times – but the model survived with only the launch peg ripping out of the wing tip.

Stephane Duponsel launchGary Grainger launchMe spotting and timing for Lionel

The little F3K models are absolutely amazing: claimed launch speed to be around 150km/h, able to stay up on the lightest of lift and although only weighing in at around 300 grams, still able to penetrate a considerable breeze.

Set up before the contest. The one in the front is my new SalomeA really great new class for me and I’ve already bought the Long Shot 2 as a second model. What’s more important is that the F3K guys are such a great bunch and the contests are really fun.

So come on guys, how about putting BERG on the F3K map – the Long Shot 2 manual distinctly says “Discus launching is not likely to harm your body in any way as long as you warm up your muscles before trying to launch at full power “?! And they even give the warming up tips.

Finally don’t forget the final leg of the HTL and year end function at Heidelberg on the 7th December.
See you there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DG300 Canopy

Last year I bought a DG300 fuselage and with it came a new bright blue canopy(I suspect Michel was the original owner of this glider) , anyway I dropped the new(old) canopy and it shattered , probably due to years of storage making it brittle.

Now I will be the first to admit that I have never considered making my own clear canopies, believing that it was a difficult process, however my need outweighed my fear, so I gave it a try. I can only say it is rather easy and I was surprised at the results.

I salvaged the broken canopy and glued and taped the pieces together, then I waxed the inside a couple of times, no polishing off between layers, it,s the shape you want. I layed up a glass canopy form inside the old canopy.

It was smoothed and filled and final waterpapered with 600/800 grit .No paint.

The form was placed up on a block and lightly coated with some cooking oil.(Virgin olive oil if you are health conscious).

This is my mini how to thread based on the materials I had (I was not allowed near my wife's eye level oven) and equipment available. So I had to go and buy a new heat gun , this one has 3 speeds/settings upto 370 deg c.

The test strip of acetate was to see how it reacted and softened .

A wooden strip frame was attached to the acetate sheet with a sandwich, using dry wall screws, it must have an overlap of material.

Now carefully heating the acetate evenly and keeping the heat on the move, two people pull down on the frame, you will see the softening acetate conforming over the form.

As a precaution we wore leather gloves, hot plastic can burn.

If you have a wrinkle you rework the tension and heat and it will pull out. Next you hold it in place and let it cool a few minutes. I then left it outside to totally cool for an hour.

It was popped off the form and put over the cockpit base , marked and trimmed. I then washed it with some warm detergent/water
to remove the cooking oil.

I have glued it on with silicone, and it seems ok
next time I would have masked and roughed up a strip inside for better adhesion.

Its ready to go onto the glider, oh BTW I did do some instrumentation and fitted a pilot.... His name is Captain McFear and he is already stocking up on tranqulisers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Estcourt Extravaganza! Distance and Coordinates

Thanks Guys for the kind words, it was a brilliant weekend at the slope.

The distance from my house (Wendywood, Gauteng) to the slope is 370 km's.

The coordinates at the slope-site are:

S 29 deg 01.962' E 029 deg 38.887'

From Estcourt, drive to Draycott and follow the road up the mountain, no need of a 4x4 (as some people are let to believe) easy access to the slope is at the end of the straight, to the right. (a path is leading off from the main road)

Ciao and happy flying.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Rude awakening (Sunday Morning)

With the predicted rain and cloudy weather for the weekend it was a good idea to sleep in on Sunday morning knowing that the flying field with all the rain would turn into an instant mud bath, then sound asleep around about 3am all hell broke lose.

The crashing sound was made worse by the absolute silence before. By now every one in the house was awake, rushing to the front door frantically unlocking the security doors to see what happened. At first it sounded like a bombing attack. Outside the street was quiet, then voice’s from next door. I ran across the garden and glance over the wall to see the crumbled and squashed 1- ton Nissan bakkie, 3 meters short of penetrating the my boundary wall and nearly landing I my swimming pool. The driver manage to escape with only a few scratches. After he was taken and released form the nearby Olivedale clinic, he promptly ran away.

The Stop Street ( T junction ) was not observed and he never attempted to brake as there were no skid marks and hit the curb opposite the stop street at such a speed that the bakkie became air born for 5 meters and then hit the perimeter wall and gate of my next door neighbor, one piece of wall about 50kg to 80 kg were fling through the air, hit the bottom two slats of the pre-cast wall and landed about 20 meters away from the bakkie.

I took the pictures of the damage at the first break of dawn.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Great Soaring Weekend at Estcourt

Friday afternoon 30th October 2008, having checked and rechecked the content of the trailer box, all the gliders and equipment are present! Now we can depart. After a pleasant journey we, my Wife and I, arrive shortly after 6 pm at the Blue Haze Lodge in Escourt. Already on the way the wind was blowing from NNW, a promising weekend of Fun-Flying.

We are just in the process of unpacking the trailer, when a car arrives at the parking lot with 3 “starring” gentleman. “Are you Michel?......You look like Michel!” says the driver. Colin, William and Marco from Durban are at the Lodge. After a warm welcome, we settle the meeting time for Saturday 9 am at the Blue Haze Lodge. Colin and his companions are staying at the Wagon Drift Resort.

Settled in at the Bar we wait for the other companions to arrive. First to arrive is Boris, shortly after, Wolfgang with his better half Anne. After the initial drinks, still at the well equipped Bar, we all have a good dinner with the appropriate bottle of “Veuve Clicquot”.

The next morning, after a good breakfast, all is ready and everybody present for the Slope-Venture.

A 20 min drive, then we are at the Slope. A wonderful African sunny day, a nice NNW wind and a beautiful scenery greets us at our arrival on the slope.

Wind speed varying between 20 and 30 knots, straight up from the valley………what more do you ask for!

William is the first one to launch his 2kg heavy “Pig”. In seconds it is airborne and starts to perform a kaleidoscope of aerobatic maneuvers. We are all watching and enjoying the air show.

The full interest is on the landing, with the heavy rotor and the somehow unknown ground effect, but easy does it, a nice approach from the left, put the glider on final and gently and gracefully place the glider at your feet. A bit of an Ace-Flyer, I say!

Then, naturally, everybody else is gaining confidence. Soon all the gliders are assembled. I am next with the Toko, then Boris with his scale Dg 500/22 4,5m and a Trinity, Wolfgang with the ASW 22 3m, an Eish and a Zagi, Marco, William and Colin with the respective “Slopies”. The show is on, turn, loops, roll, diving, speed runs, you name it, everybody is having FUN!

The wind has now increased, I measure and it’s pumping at 30 to 34 Knots, great!

I assemble the ASW 26 4,5m for its “maiden” flight. For this glider (approx 9kg of weight) I have in mind to use a catapult, as they use in Europe, two silicone-rubber 5m long tubing anchored on the edge of the slope stretched for another 5m and anchored to a quick release mechanism that allows the glider to rest on a launch-ramp and be released by pulling at the release cord.
Theory all well …… but practice?

Boris decides that the plane can be launched from the edge ,there is enough wind to get airborne. So, there we go, Boris as the test-flyer at the commands, I hold the plane with both hands and start running towards the edge of the cliff……..give a big push (as a 60 year old can give)………. Nose down?………..crash into the rocks! No big damage, a scratch here and there, the canopy hinge as become dislodged, otherwise the plane is fine. Boris is now giving me a lecture and as soon as the plane is ready again, he will launch it with the strength of a 20 year old!

With all efforts, help and goodwill, the big glider was ready for the second maiden-flight. Suddenly, on final radio check smoke and an electrical burning smell propagates from the one wing, a servo decides to cook-it-self. I now decide to pack the glider back in the box and play with the Toko and the Eagle.

Back to the wind, it is now getting a bit gusty, Verena and Anne have prepared a “Super-Duper” spread for lunch, only to be launched (slope-style), inclusive table (the lid of one of the boxes) into the air by a gust of wind.

Some repair has to be done to the vertical bracing of the awning. Marco and Willian are attending to the matter with hammer and ….. persistence!

The Durban Guys, Colin, Marco and William have fun as well, they brought 11 planes to play with, they are all “Slopies” beautifully coloured and perfectly built, it’s amazing what you can fit in a small Sedan, 3 grown-up people ……(grown-up and still playing with rc-models?)…..and 11 planes.

The sky is the limit, everyone performs all sorts of aerobatic and you can see from their faces that they are truly enjoying the fun.

Wolfgang has now the Eish into action and shortly thereafter the Zagi……(or was this the other way around? ….c.r.a.f.t. moment I guess!) Anyway, we are having Fun-Fun-Fun!

My Eagle takes off like a rocket, steady and just beautiful. I put in the fuzz about 400gr of ballast, the wind is still “pumping” and the plane is penetrating well.

As previously mentioned, the landing is no problem no incidents. There is such a great flat surface with short grass and no stones or bushes that could create a hazard, if you plan your approach well, you can land at you feet. I am happy to bring my plane safe to the ground…..say no-more!

By about 2.00 pm, Boris has to leave for home. We are all continuing with our fun. The wind, even after 4pm, is still blowing and does not seem to subside. Colin, Marco and William are packing up at about 4pm, Wolfgang and myself with our consorts are still holding on, it’s nearing sunset and the scenery is really not to be missed.

Suddenly, by 5pm, the wind is stopping and is changing direction, from NNW to S. It is, then that we call it “The Day”. The packing is done very swiftly and each helps where he can. By 7pm we are back at the lodge. Tonight is a big night, a big party, a big number………it’s my 60th birthday. All the participants are present and even Allen and his wife Angela (The Lodge Owners) are attending. A nobel meal with joyful company, crowned by a magical day of flying.

Its morning again, and we are back on the slope. The wind at first marginal but taking on more and more strength. By 11 am it is BLOWING! 40 to nearly 50 knots. William “The Brave” launches his “Pig” and what a launch! The plane is “screeeeeeeming!” the elliptical wings of his “Slopie” are performing to the maximum. All of us are sitting comfortably in our deck-chairs and enjoying the spectacle.

Enticed by William, I assemble my Toko. William is launching, the Toko it has a second of hesitation, then like a rocket, starts climbing,…… nose down! Softly on the elevator, the speed is increasing, turn into wind, gains another 10 or 20 meters, dive, the little plane is picking up speed, whistling through the air, another turn, a repeated low pass, an other climb, ………I have gone toooo far, suddenly a gust of wind takes control of the Toko, I got it in the rotor that is developing, just behind the edge. Unexpectedly the Toko is uncontrollable, gets into a disorderly tumble and disappears behind the hill.

The search is on, what will I find? Some unrecognizable pieces scattered all over the place? A plane-impaled cow? Colin is the first to spot the shape of a possible plane, a long walk, and……… well, for what the poor Toko had to go through it is still…….at least recognizable. The wing broken in two, the fuzz cracked in few places, besides that still repairable! Marco, returning to the “airfield”, is showing great interest in the Toko. I sold it to him for 50cents! He has already sent me a pick of the initial repair!

The wind does not seem to soften, nobody is flying, Wolfgang and I are having fun with a Rock-Crawler-Truck, (everlasting-kids). The Durban guys are starting to pack. It is past lunch-time, and we all decide to pack up and some of us to take the long way back home. Verena and I are leaving only on Monday, so we have a comfortable evening at the Lodge.

I would like to thank all the Guys and the Girls for a wonderful weekend, full of laughter, fun flying and a great camaraderie. The sport of RC flying brings a beautiful bunch of fun–loving-people together with a great sense of humour! Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to my wife Verena for taking all the Great Photos!!!!!