About Great Gonzo
Great Gonzo is my "Zen" airplane. I
call her a Kite with an engine because that is how she flies. Of all
the R/C aircraft I have owned or flown, this one is my favorite by far.
She was designed and built in approximately ten days in early
September 2001 and is a direct descendent of
When I fly Great Gonzo 90% of each flight is with
or a couple clicks above low idle. That is no exaggeration. With the
CV-A she can climb at about
1,000 feet per minute at full throttle and once at altitude she just floats
around on the air currents. I have also used a Magnum .15 which is
significantly less powerful, but still provides plenty of power for the model.
To really enjoy this airplane you have to work
with the wind and let the plane do its thing. I like to keep her nose
pointed within a 180 degree arc. At 90 degrees she is directly into the
wind. To move
downwind, I simply turn her slightly away from that
and let her drift.
She is incredibly
relaxing to fly. I usually grab a drink and a chair and sit back with the
transmitter in my lap. I just bump the stick every once in a while to
correct her heading and watch her float around. You could call it assisted
free flight. Flights of 30 - 40 minutes
are routine on a 3 ounce
flown this model extensively using only the V-tail, but to prove it, I removed
the flaperons and servos. Control response with only the
V-tail is excellent as it has been all along.
The model is now about 3-4
ounces lighter (under two pounds) and it climbs like crazy. One person
even asked me if I had a .46 engine on the plane. I had to show him the
model to prove it was a .15! Generally people think the model has a .25 on
believe the model would fly well powered by a good .049 or .061, but I have not
tried it. If I did, I would not take her out on windy days for fear she
might get downwind and lack the power to return.
A .10 is all she needs and the .15 is more than she needs. I like the
.15 to get her to altitude fast. With a smaller engine, it will just take
a lot longer.
The prototype has several hundred flights and
countless hours. So far the only damage incurred has been due to blowing
over on the ground. That is just a matter of me not being diligent and
removing the wing between flights, leaving her unattended on a table or turning
her cross-wind during
taxiing on exceptionally windy days.
The first flight on December 22, 2002 posted an endurance flight record for
this model. That record was broken on the second flight. The first
flight lasted 47 minutes. Great Gonzo ran out of fuel at 34 minutes and
was dead stick for the remaining 13 minutes.
I am not a good judge of
altitude, but I am guessing she was between 1,000 and 1,500 feet when the engine cut
off. Most of the club
members present were unable to see her because she was a microscopic dot in the
The second flight lasted 56 minutes. She
dead stick after 38 minutes and landed 18 minutes later. She was at
roughly the same altitude as the first flight. I wouldn't know a thermal
if it bit me, but apparently I caught some lift to be able to stay aloft for so
In fact, at one point she seemed to be gaining altitude and I was
seriously concerned about the
range of my radio. In any case, I was
impressed enough by these flights to tell you about them.