Flight Deck

July 2015

Tailhook assembly on Eric's Northwest Sport 40 plane. Eric Conley photo.

Northwest Sport 40 at the 2015 Northwest Regionals

By Eric Conley

Finally I got to fly NW S40 again at the 2015 Northwest Regionals in Roseburg, Ore. I've been wanting to do this for several years now so I could write another article on the performance of these planes. I feel that this is a great carrier event and hope that it spreads out over the U.S. It is very easy to fly and will reward the participant who will take the time to practice the event just a little. By a little I mean 10 or so flights if the pilot is concentrating on the following things discussed in this article. I'm attaching a spread sheet showing the scores of each entry.

First take a look at “just the high speeds” by each contestant. The higher the speed the better chance you have of placing. Notice Burt's HS. If he could have raised his HS just a few mph, he would have been in first place. Now look at Walter Hicks' HS. It was the best or highest but his low speed was by far the lowest. This plane was once mine and I can assure you and Walter that this plane is capable of a very low speed with just a little practice and it will be interesting to see what Walter can do with this plane. My entry had a good HS and a pretty good LS. The LS time was reached by not hanging (I think?) and the HS is a result of the engine (same as all of the others) turning 13,400 rpm with a APC 9/6 sport prop and burning GMA 10/22 fuel. I've found that I need to lean the engine for the highest rpm I can get and then not back it off, keep it leaned for the highest rpm. If the plane is not hanging in the LS it will not overheat even though the engine is leaned for HS. This is one of the things to include in your practice flights (adjusting for the highest speed).

To learn to fly the best LS and not use the hang, you need to slow the plane down properly. Start by throttling back and as the plane's speed decreases you will notice that it won't keep its altitude unless you increase power slowly to hold an altitude of 5 to 8 feet. You will notice that the nose will rise and the plane will keep its altitude and at a certain point you will have to slowly increase more and more throttle (power), at that time you are approaching the hang and when the wing stops flying (stalls completely) you will have to add significantly more throttle to keep it flying level and you are now in the hang which with a little practice is easy to do. “BUT I DONT THINK S40 SHOULD BE A HANGING EVENT” so the idea is to find that angle of attack and power where you are going as slow as the plane will go without the wing stalling. With my S40 109T the angle of attack is over 20 degrees and less than 30 probably 23 to 25 degrees maximum.This is another of the things to practice and you will get to know the difference between hanging and flying slowly with the wing. This angle will be different with different planes, my 109T along with Walters F6F has a flat bottom wing that is 1&1/8” thick at the cord. A symmetrical airfoil will be slightly different so you will need to find the right angle by trial and error. Another thing to practice.

The landing should be the easiest maneuver to complete correctly on your first try. That is if you have the LS mastered to some extent. If the air is not driving you crazy and you have done a pretty good LS portion of the event you should signal for the landing as you finish your seventh lap of the LS portion of the event. After signaling you just keep flying your LS as you have been at about 4 feet and as you reach the ramp of the deck you just cut the throttle while giving a slight up to the elevator and your plane will land somewhere in the arresting area every time provided your control handle is over the middle of the center plate. You should learn to be well aware of the center of the center plate perhaps by flying you LS while standing just behind the center plate, that will put your control handle and hand right at the center of the plate and the plane will be centered on the deck. Don't forget to stay away from the first arresting cable on the deck. The chances of striking the RAMP are excellent and so is the DQ that goes along with it. I hope for arresting cable 4 through 7 and if I end up with 1 or 2 it only means that I misjudged my landing and didn't land where I wanted to.

You don't need a deck to practice the carrier event. You need a grass area big enough to fly your plane on or a paved area also big enough to fly your plane on. On grass I set my flight box, stooge and plane in a small area and then take off and land just to the inside of the takeoff area. If your plane has a tail skid hook you may or may not be able to take off without the hook getting caught in the grass; so far I've not had that trouble with mine. On grass if this turns out to be a problem then put the normal tail skid back on the plane and fly it that way, switching back when you will be at a contest. If I am flying off pavement I use the same stooge to take off with and then use “one” 10 foot long arresting line just inside of the stooge that is tied to two 2.5 lb. barbells. This will stop and hold your plane while you walk to it and shut the engine down. My stooge is a 1/4” piece of plywood that is 2 feet wide by 3 feet long with worktable mat stapled to the bottom to keep it from sliding on pavement. I fly off a grass area at the edge of a baseball diamond. The grass is a bit sickly for lack of enough sprinkler water on the area that I take off and land in. I also fly with a stooge at all times except at a contest. If I had to find a guy to fly with me I wouldn't be flying control-line, period. Once more I don't want some guy that I have to depend on to help me fly to be distracting me from what I'm trying to get straight as I practice the things that will help me fly carrier better. I can be very short with people that tell me they don't get to practice because they can't get anyone to go flying with them. They don't know how lucky they are. So make yourself a stooge and get some good practice in.

For the life of me I cant remember what Walter Hicks' plane looked like unless it was the red and blue bi-plane that flew at the carrier deck. If it was I have to say he got a pretty good HS for a biplane although his LS left a lot to be desired but I'm sure it could have done much better with practice. Burt's plane was a Folker D VII with a tail skid hook and wasn't very fast but scored well with a 60 degree hang through out the entire LS portion of the flight. The tail skid hook is something the S40 fliers should look at closely. It doesn't require all of the work that is involved in adding an arresting hook system that can be retracted and then let down when it is time to land. It adds no weight to the plane (very important) and works just as well as the retracting hooks. Several of my newest AMA carrier planes have the tail skid hook and they work just perfect.

This is really a great event and I have to thank Mike Potter every time I fly one of the S40 planes. He has done a great job in introducing such a simple event and has tried to keep it simple. I do wish for a NO HANG addition to the rules so there doesn't have to be an inside judge. The ED or judge could stand outside of the circle and help time the event and also watch the angle of attack of the plane and if he felt that the pilot had started to hang or was hanging during the flight he could DQ the flight (remember he is THE JUDGE). The pilot could have three chances to get one good flight in and if he DQed on all three then he would have no score. Or it could be said that this is a no hang event and anyone that hangs is DQed by the judge. Having said that this event could go a long ways in introducing the pilots to the hang because as they practice their LS ability's they will naturally enter the hang once in a while and find that the maneuver is actually quite simple to do. The 109T that I flew in this year's event had to have several things done to it before it became an OK plane for S40. First I had to make the landing gear legs long enough so that the angle of attack made the plane take off of the deck without me pulling any up on the control handle. Then all I had to do was level the plane out at around 6 feet and do the HS (much faster without the climb and dive after take off). I had to add some outside tip weight to the plane to keep it from wanting to come in during the LS (approximately 2.5 oz. with a 41 inch span). I added an adjustable lead out to the inside wing tip to help the plane with out thrust during LS. I also added 9 degrees of out thrust to the engine which lowered my HS by almost one second to help keep the plane out during LS (after adding the extra tip weight I don't think I needed this much engine out thrust if any).

I'm thinking the idea of this event was to let someone with an old plane or the ability to get an old plane from someone else, put in an OS 40FP, equip it with a three line control system or the newer 2.4 radio system for throttle, add the tail hook skid and go fly a very simple carrier event that had all of the aspects of the AMA Carrier events. Its a fast moving event as the planes are only in the air for several minutes in each flight they make. The guys who primarily fly other events and then come over to the carrier circle late in the PM would be better served if they came over first thing in the morning and laid out their planes ready to fly and then when they could get away for a few minutes during the day come over and fly with the help of the people at the carrier circle. I'm sure they would put you up right away so you could get back to your primary event. You would have a better chance to fly in good air which can make the difference between an also ran and somebody that places. The scores in this event should all be very close and the air you have when you fly could be the big difference in how you place. Now please go out and practice just a little and be rewarded at the next contest.

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This page was upated July 3, 2015