Saturday, 8 September 2012

Super Ceres Saturday

For the first time in a long time I found myself with the opportunity for two consecutive days sports flying. In fact the last time I had two consecutive days sports flying was Lundy over two years ago, I must really get out more. With two planes waiting to have their maiden flights it seamed like the perfect chance to get this done.

Seeing as I haven’t had much stick time over the last few months the plan was to concentrate on the Ceres on Saturday and the Stinger on the Sunday. The plan was to have a fly of the Ascot to get a good feel for the air and then get the Ceres out to play.

Now the first fly in the ointment was when I had walked up to Mickey’s hoping for a nice 12 to 15 mph breeze I was confronted with a 30 to 35 mph blow. Not only that, but the wind was cocked off to west, which meant a trek further around the slope.

So once I got there I filled the Ascot with lead and chucked her off.  She was right in her element and was soon screaming around the sky, but if anything the wind was getting a little stronger so should I commit the Ceres?

Now this is not strictly a maiden as this was the second Ceres I have hand. The first one I bought was off John Phillips which had been flown with all the loving care that only John could have given it! As a result of quite a lot flat field flying and aggressive winch launches the flaps had developed quite a bit of slop to the extent she would wave to me as she went past on the slope. Even with all of this she was still an absolute joy to fly and was fast becoming my first plane of choice.

Unfortunately my first Ceres had a bit of a mishap! After telling everyone not to go to far back on the Ice Cream slope to land at a Winter League I did just that and paid the price of a gentle land out in the Quarry. I wouldn’t say the damage was terminal but a major rebuild is on the cards to get her in the air again and as so many of you know time not something I have lot of late.

I was enjoying the Ceres so much I had already consciously made a decision to buy another Ceres with RDS on the wings as the slop on the wings has been quite well documented by other pilots and this looked like a good option to remove it.

Jiri will install the RDS for you, but I chose to do this myself. Although this was quite daunting at first, once I got stuck into it was quite simple to do and quite rewarding as well.  Setting the model up was even easier. Joel West kindly gave me the setting from his Ceres when I had me first one and they were so spot on I always found myself coming back to them, so I copied over the memory from my old Ceres. The first surprise was how close the aileron movements were when you consider the different linkage mechanism between conventional control horns and RDS and only some minor adjustments were required to get the same control surface throws.

So back to the slope and even though the wind was a little windy for a maiden I put six slugs in the Ceres and went for it.  Wow was the first thought to the improved aileron response. My old Ceres I had to mix flaps with ailerons to get a decent response but the new Ceres was on steroids and I had to switch the flaps out to quite her down. I was expecting a minor improvement but noting like this.

This is a nice position to be in as it gives you the option just to run with ailerons or reduce the throws and run with ailerons and mixed flaps. I have always tried to run with just ailerons in the past but have always meant to try the mixed option to see if it suited my F3F flying style more. Both ways work and pilots that have won the BMFA league have flown both ways, so it is very much a point of finding out what is right for you.

The other most impressive thing was that Ceres was absolutely screaming and only with 3/5 of the ballast in. I had the Ascot full to get the same response, in fact the Ceres felt faster. A dive test and inverted flight indicated that the C of G was pretty neutral as I could fly inverted with little or no down input. There is always a danger in a good blow with a neutral C of G that the model will start to hunt a bit but the Ceres was rock solid.

This has me thinking about my Ascot now that I have always flown her with quite a conservative C of G and might just try moving back a bit more.

A quick check of the Crow breaking and I then went to land. No drama here may be a bit more down compensated in the elevator required to deal with tricky rota but otherwise a very enjoyable afternoon.      

Sunday and the Stinger was charged and ready to go and the plan was this time have fly with the Ceres to gauge the air and then work on setting up the Stinger. The forecast had deteriorated a bit over 24 hours and clag was going to prove to be the big problem. A quick check on Nant-Y-Moel weather site confirmed the Bwlch was covered in clag.

My only hope was the Meio which is one of my local slopes and is bit lower than the Bwlch. Metcheck was indicating it would lift around 6 o’clock in the evening so I got on with some jobs around the house and then went up. It was clagged but was lifting. As soon as it looked like I might get a flight in I walked up the slope and did a range check on the Stinger. That was all fine and dandy but the clag just wouldn’t lift that bit more to make it suitable for a flight. By 7:30 common sense kicked in and I de-rigged the Stinger and went home.

Hopefully I will get out this weekend to Maiden the Stinger and do a bit more work on the Ceres so that she is ready for Welsh Open next week. I failed yet again to get two consecutive days sports flying but still have a big grin on my face after flying the Ceres again. All in all not a bad weekend!

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