Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Smiling Stinger Sunday

Last week I failed to maiden my Stinger because of clag on the mountain. This weekend was looking promising. However, I couldn’t fly Saturday because I was celebrating 22 years of happy marriage to my darling Sylv.

I should have supported the BMFA league at the Long Mynd but I was aware that after a day of partying on Saturday getting up early on Sunday was going to be a problem. Added to this probably the fact that five or six two minute flights wasn’t really give me a chance to get the Stinger set up. So I opted for the sensible lie-in and a day on the slope setting the Stinger up.

I awoke the next day a little jaded from the previous day. The forecast suggest I would be on Mickey’s but there would be clag coming in around 4 o’clock. By the time I had parked and walked up to Mickey’s the cloud was starting to build. There was quite a bit of south in the wind so I would be flying by the dew pond just before the cattle grid.  Like the previous week the forecast gentle 15 to 20 mph breeze was a 35 to 40 mph blow.

So I started to rig the Stinger. Now I had turned my back on the weather and was busy getting the Stinger ready and when I turned around the clag was really coming in and the radio masts on the opposite slope had disappeared. If you are flying this is usually a good time to land and not launch!  

With this the clag really started to roll in three hours early. I waited for half an hour but things were getting worse and not better. There was way too much south in the wind for the Meio (the slope I used last week) to work. However, there was one other slope I could try but I haven’t flown this for a few years now and this was Heol –Y-Cym, which is just to the left of the wind mills you can see from the M4.

This was a complete contrast to the Bwlch, bright and sunny and a gentle 5 to 10 mph wind, but was only chance I would get to fly. This is not that efficient a slope so I left the ballast out and put the Ceres up first. The slope was working but there was a definite ceiling to the lift and getting much more than 30 to 40 metres above the slope was hard work.

The Ceres was soon moving nicely around the sky so it was time to commit the Stinger. I had set her up as to Vaclav’s directions. Having copied over the memory from my Ascot and I adjusted the throws to Vaclav’s measurements. Nothing for it but time to launch! No drama just a click of up trim and she was happy.

I was still struggling to get a lot of height so a dive test was out, but inverted flight only required a little down to keeper level, suggesting the C of G wasn’t far off the mark. The differential which had been copied over from the Ascot felt okay but was difficult to tell in the light conditions.

The only thing that was out was the crow breaking and she was rearing up quite hard when the brakes were fully deployed. I fed in a bit more down elevator compensation and this was soon rectified. This is probably due to a neat trick Knewt showed me on the MPX4000, which means I can get a lot more throw on the flaps than with other Tx, so that explained the difference in elevator compensation to Vaclav's settings and they are an excellent starting point.

With conditions so light there wasn’t much more that could be done. I just enjoyed flying the Stinger around for the next hour. It felt really good. It felt as quick as the Ceres in the same conditions and very responsive to any lift coming through on the slope. But these were hardily race legal conditions for F3F so a bit early to generate a really opinion on her for this discipline. The conditions were getting quite cocked off to the right as more west was coming into the breeze. This is not good on this slope as there is a ridge that runs out on the right that generates quite a bit of dirty air onto the slope.

The Stinger felt good in the crossed conditions and just pushing the nose down and she penetrated well into wind, but the wind was light. She felt very solid in the turns and even in the dirty air on the right she never felt like letting go.

The wind was now getting quite westerly so it was time to call it day. It would have been nice to see how she responded to some ballast but by the end of the afternoon I was struggling to maintain any sort of height on the slope , but all in all a very satisfying day!

The lack of stick time will probably mean that she will stay home next week for the Welsh Open unless the wind is quite light and similar to today.  But I am really looking forward to getting to know her better as first initial impressions are very good and remind me of the first time I flew the Ceres with all the same urgency that she showed!

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