Cap 232 initial fight report

Finally had a chance last year to give the Cap 232 its maiden. It was a very nervous time as the model didn’t have a manual. This meant I had no idea if:

  1. The servos were strong enough
  2. The all up weight was ok
  3. The engine selection was appropriate
  4. The thrust angle was correct
  5. And most importantly the throws were within a useful range

Well, it was a bit of a disaster all round. I went to one local park and had been running a few taxis trying to find some courage. Then a whole school of kids started to walk past. Literally about 400 children. So I gave up on that one. It’s one thing to destroy a new model, it’s another to destroy it in front of a cheering crowd.

I went to my normal spot later in the day and decided to have a go. I powered her up after a range test and hand launched. It barely lifted and then sort of slumped nose up into the grass a few meters away (much like jets drop off the end of a carrier when they haven’t quite reached flight speed). This was fail number one. I’ve been flying a foamy so long I’d forgotten that balsa planes need a good solid launch. My foamy will literally pull itself out of my hands and fly off. The undercarriage had ripped off but the plane was still essentially complete so I decided to persevere.

Second launch my old skills came back and I gave it a good solid heave. She took to the air just fine and started slowly climbing away. My nerves were very fried and getting more sizzled as I tried to trim anything near level flight into it. Unfortunately I’d gone super wrong on the throws. I’d figured the surfaces were pretty small so throws slightly less than the foamy would be reasonable. Wrong. The plane was all over the place and each slight correction was throwing the poor thing all over the sky. Nose went up, right wing down and it disappeared off behind a bank. I cut the power and used my old slope skill of cranking full up elevator when  a plane goes out of sight in a bid to stall it to the ground. I’d pretty much given up on it by then however. From that height and especially over the bank, it should be a pile of balsa by now. I turned the transmitter off and headed across the field to collect the remains.

To my utter amazement there it was sitting with no further damage on a stand of long grass! It looked like it had stalled back into the bank and the grass had caught the rest, what a stroke of luck! About now I was thinking I should give up but I decided that since I’d already written the plane off in my mind, I now effectively had a free plane (can’t fault that logic). So I got into the plane set-up on the transmitter and dialed the throws down by half and put in 50% exponential. In hindsight, exponential is really exactly what I should’ve put in from the start but was something I’d never played with before. Lesson learnt.

Third time was a charm. Solid hand launch and away she flew. Still very twitchy especially on ailerons but off she flew. I got a modicum of flat trim in and started on a few circuits. I then backed off full power and suddenly she started to climb (as best as I can recall). This means the thrust on the engine is all wrong (full power is dragging the plane down) and this isn’t something I could fix on the field. With my nerves pretty fried I decided to bring it in to land. I put her far out to my left and cut the gas. Mistake number 4(?) for the day was forgetting how much momentum balsa planes have over foamies. The biggest problem I have with landing my foamy is to get it close enough once the battery is gone as its glide slope is about 50% on no power. However this thing, damn, it just kept going, slicing through the air exactly as it was designed to do. Fortunately there was plenty of room but I overshot the nice grass I’d planned on landing in by about 10 meters. There was no real further damage to plane or ego and so I packed up and went home.

I’ve since managed to realign the motor. I used a long ruler against the elevator stab to get some idea and then eyed it up with the chord of the wing. For some reason the built in motor mount has about minus 5degrees. I hope I’ve not gone too far the other way…

Original motor mount angle versus new angle, zero to wings

I haven’t decided if I’m game to glue the undercarriage back in yet but I think I probably should. I am looking forward to flying it again though! Just need this weather to sort itself out and for a let up in work…

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