Flight Deck

May 2012

The coming of electrics in Navy Carrier

By Eric Conley

Electric motors have been in use to power model airplanes for at least the past 20+ years, with improving results each of those years to the point now there is more gear around to power your plane with electricity than there is gear for internal combustion engines. When I thumb through any model airplane magazine it seems that IC engines are becoming something of the past. I see adds for OS, SuperTiger, Thunder Tiger, and assorted ads for large gasoline engines to power super large RC airplanes. I see a couple of ads for IC fuel where there used to be a half -dozen or thereabouts.

I now see quite a few adds for motors including ads by OS and MVVS, which I believe has turned all of their attention to electric power. Also to be seen are ads for batteries by the dozen, electronic speed controls (ESC) again by the dozen, every kind of servo in analog or digital, and all types of 2.4GHZ transmitters and receivers plus accessories (?) for both. Do I see any ads for control lines, 3-wire bell cranks, J-Roberts (type) 3-wire control handles? No, if we want something for our carrier planes we have to go out and look for it and when it comes to control handles and bellcranks, we have ONE supplier Brodak (thank you, John Brodak). Are there any high performance engines currently on the market for the three classes of AMA Carrier? No. All of the top engines in use at this time have to be found on eBay or purchased from a private party. To me, not a pretty picture but one I have learned to live with as have all of us who fly AMA Navy Carrier competitively.

How many times have we had someone come up to us at a contest and asked what kind of event we were engaged in? For me the struggle begins there and only gets worse the more questions I am asked because I seldom have the answers that the questioner can understand. First off, I relate to WWII carrier planes when I think about Carrier, and most if not all of the questioners don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about right from the get-go. Then there are the questions about the planes (kits) and what kind of engine and yes some of them ask about what kind of motor. I know the answers to these questions but I don't think I have ever adequately answered in a way he or she could relate to in any way as far as what it would take for them to participate in what we do.

The procurement plan (buying supplies) that I use and I think all the rest of my fellow Carrier fliers use has been acquired over years (like at least 60 for me) and it comes down now to building and supplying my own components so I can fly my planes in competition. So what does this leave me with to sell my sport to the questioner? Not much that he will ever wont to hear, know or understand. What can I do about this? Not much as things stand now. What might it take? I think one thing we could do to increase interest (or should I say remove a hurdle) in our sport of Navy Carrier is to open up to electronics including the use of 2.4GHZ transmitters, receivers, motors, ESCs, and servos. I'm not talking sending the signal down the control lines as this is just another block or hurdle for someone to find a way around.

The control lines would be mandatory for control of the elevator and the rest would up to the designer, builder, flier. That is about as simple as it can get and still be control-line and I'm pretty sure the questioner would be comfortable with this. Then there is the statement I hear or see “Oh but it will make all of my equipment obsolete” the hell you say? It won't make any of my IC equipment obsolete now and probably never will. It will give me something new to do, or something new and plentiful to switch over to when my present IC equipment wears out or becomes obsolete by age and attainability. Is this such a bad thing? Does any one lose anything? No not anything, period.. The only thing that changes is you have more to choose from when designing, building, and flying your carrier planes.

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