This plane did not last long. Exactly a week after I
finished construction, I was shooting
touch-and-goes with the model. I was
trying different types of landings (slowed to crawl, hot, etc.) On one of
the hot landings, the model came in nicely and ran down the grass field for a
short length before taking off again.
As I turned to keep my eyes on the
model, which was now hauling along at full throttle at a foot or so of altitude, I was shocked to see that it appeared to be heading straight for a
barrier that separates the pilots from the flying field (you can see the
barriers in the photo of Mike). At the time, there was no one at that end of the field, or I would have
immediately chopped the throttle and stuck the model into the ground.
Instead, I over-corrected using aileron to turn away from the barrier and
stuck a wingtip in the ground. The plane cart wheeled about seventy-five feet
across the field.
In retrospect, the model probably wasn't heading for the
barrier at all, but when it came into my peripheral vision I panicked and made
the wrong decision.
Parts flew everywhere. The fuselage was broken in two pieces, each of
which had several cracks. Strangely, several of the largest of the cracks were
extremely clean as if cut with a sharp razor. The cracks were more cleanly
cut than any die-cutting I have ever seen. They were not splintered as
you would expect. This led me to believe that the wood was defective.
When I selected the wood from my stack, I noticed it had what looked like stress
cracks running across the grain. I bent the wood at those locations and
they did not open up, so I assumed they were just scratches. The wood I
built the fuselage from was chosen because I had purchased it in
sizes) and I wouldn't be able to use it in most of my other projects.
I am not blaming
the wood. I just thought the cracks were interesting. The model hit
the ground pretty hard and any model would have been pretty badly torn up.
The wing survived with one broken turbulator spar and two dented wing tips.
It was still bolted to the fuselage. The minor damage really surprised me.
I checked the wing thoroughly to ensure the primary spars had not been damaged,
but amazingly, they were unscathed.
The wing was a ten minute repair job. I decided to build a new fuselage due to
the severity and type of damage it had sustained.
Because I was building a new fuselage anyway, I
made a few more changes to the design. I felt the airplane should make
better aileron turns. I suspected that the long nose-moment created too
much turn-resisting inertia. I shortened the nose and moved the landing
gear rearward to the leading edge of the wing.
Also, after the first day of test flights with the first model I found the fuel tank had a bad
stopper and the radio compartment had become fuel-soaked. Learning my
lesson, the new fuselage is fuel-proofed to the rear of the wing saddle. I
will also never use a Hangar 9 fuel tank again. Screw on
stoppers are a really bad idea.
If repairs, modifications, hangar rash and the effects of time give a model
airplane character, then this model has plenty of it.
My Stik 30 underwent serious weight reduction in March 2004. The weight gain came from many factors. The main reason is that the
fuselage moments are such that it comes in nose-heavy even with engines in the
range it was designed around. If I were to build another one, I would
shorten the nose by at least an inch and extend the tail moment by about 4".
Now that I have finished Rustik,
I still do not have an every day plane, so I decided to put a lighter engine on
and pull out the hammer and chisels to remove some lead from the tail.
I did not get it all out, but over 6 ounces were removed. To
get at the lead, I had to cut off the horizontal stabilizer which meant building
a new one. This is the third horizontal on this fuselage. It was
replaced twice before to change the area.
I also removed some weight by using smaller main wheels and swapping four
Futaba S3002 servos for an equal number of lighter Hitec HS-225 servos.
the .46 with the Wankel not only removed several ounces of weight, but the
Wankel is also significantly shorter so the weight that is there is closer to
Even with these changes, the plane was still nose heavy. The only thing
left that I could do is move the battery rearward.
My Stik 30 was first flown following the weight reduction on March 13, 2004.
What a difference! The plane flies beautifully now and I am very happy with
It is a whole new airplane again, so to really get the plane dialed-in it
will take months of trimming, but the bottom line is that this plane is back to
being what it was originally intended to be.
As before, the Wankel is still very thirsty. With an 8 ounce tank,
flights are limited to 6-8 minutes with 8 minutes almost certainly ending in a
dead-stick. But I have learned that it is better to have 6 minutes of fun
than 15 minutes of flying a dog.