The View Up Here

Random scribblings about kites, photography, machining, and anything else

A Slope At Last

Posted by Tom Benedict on 14/07/2013

I’m almost done building my Le Fish glider. The Le Fish was designed by Steve Lange, an avid slope soarer and aerobaticist (if that’s even a word). He’s one of the big movers and shakers in the American VTPR or “in your face” aerobatics movement. Rather than try to describe it in words, this video explains VTPR and the Le Fish better than I could:

As I said, I’m almost done building mine. I’ve been “almost done” for over a month. Why so slow? Because up ’till now the only slope I’d really flown from successfully was an unforested cindercone near Kailua-Kona. It’s a great site. It gets fantastic wind. But the ground is cinder with almost no vegetation at all. Any landing results in damage to the aircraft. It’s like landing on chopped up razor blades. Something is going to get cut.

So when I was invited to fly somewhere on the green side of the island, I jumped at the chance. GRASS!

At the Slope

A bunch of us went out together with our Zagi 5C flying wings, and spent the afternoon flying, crashing, laughing, and running up and down the slope retrieving airplanes and getting generally exhausted. It was GREAT!

The lift wasn’t as good as the other spot I’ve flown, but according to one of the guys there, the wind was a little lower than when he’d flown there before. Even so, I had one flight that lasted well over half an hour. Plenty of time to explore the lift and figure out where the problem areas are. Unfortunately it’s a fairly narrow zone with vortices on either side. One side catches rotor off a nearby hill, and the other has some kind of vortex that I haven’t entirely figured out yet. Turn too sharply, though, and your plane goes into a spin you can’t pull out of. All four of us fell for it, and only a couple of times were we able to pull off a save.

But the best lift was right in front of where we were standing, right next to the ground. In your face aerobatics? PERFECT!

So I’m back on the path to finishing my Le Fish. The wing is built, the tail is built, the fuselage is shaped and reinforced. I’ve even plumbed half the servos. All that’s left is to cut out the radio/battery bay, mount the last servo, and run the control rods. I may not be able to pull it off in a week, but I’m determined to try! Finally, finally, I’ve got a slope I can fly this on.

Flying Zagis
– Tom

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