Mud, Sweat, and Fear

DSC_4334Four days of Texas rain turned today’s flight workshop tents into bogs, swamps, lakes even. Folding chairs were just swallowed by the mud. Some teams simply moved out of the unlit tents just to be able to see what they were doing.

Round #1 of the micro class kicked off the gloomy day, and at first it seemed that some designers of these hand-launched airplane wanna-bes were just throwing them straight into the ground. DSC_4504SUN_5197
Balsa carnage on a terrible scale, and some teams showed some, uh, unorthodox launching strategies, though things got a little better for the regular class. Only one aircraft got uncomfortably close to the spectators, and a small chain-link fence absorbed the impact.
In the advanced class first round the Miners got off to a rough start. A one-two punch of a lower-than-expected engine thrust combined with the plane’s hard left bank when the rudder input called for just the opposite pancaked their new bird DSC_3967 (1)into the soil. Aside from a shattered bulkhead #216 seemed OK but the conservative strategy was to resurrect #216’s dependable prototype and move all the controls and landing gear over. That rebuild time cost them the second round, and with the first-round failure it was urgent to score valid flight points before the day was over.

Their efforts to restore “Holly” (it’s red and green)was easier than feared, as it was mainly a fuselage swap; the wings and electronics were fine. It paid off for the Miners when they SUN_6013found themselves at the front of the line for round #3. The engine behaved, the the airframe responded and they notched a flight result consistent with all their Vichy-area practice runs. Smooth flight, smooth marker drops just inside the scoring circle and a smooth landing.

Odds ‘n ends…

Where do great design ideas come to life? Sometimes, in a bar. At least one of today’s aircraft, the inflatable-winged paean to the dragonfly, is said to have been hatched over who-knows-how-many beers. Fitting perhaps, that the control surfaces resemble a beer mug with the bottom cut off. But it worked, and that’s what counts.

Pigs still can’t fly, but it’s not for lack of trying.

The only twin-engine plane, a geared-down beast from some mining school in the Dakotas, scattered baitfish in all directions when it, uh, splashed down some 100 yards from the runway.

Almost forgot.
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A strong contender for “best crash of the day.”