Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Balsa Glider Toy Sparks Some Great Memories

I recently ran across a link on Facebook of a short video clip on the website Answers.com entitled Kids These Days Will Never Understand – How Many of You Remember What These Are? The video featured the stingray bicycle, a toy with balls, a rotary dial telephone, and a balsa wood slip-together glider. Packaging indicated it was a Guillow’s Jetfire glider which is still available this one had cool printing on the fuselage which is lacking on newer ones but the image made several people think of the gliders sold by the American Junior Aircraft Company started by famous model aviator Jim Walker. 

It is again possible to purchase these types of gliders through American Junior Classics company and learn more about Jim Walker. I had purchased the Plain Jane folding wing glider from them and had it flying pretty well after some adjustments. On one flight it caught a thermal air current and flew across a field and a small lake, I was lucky to recover the glider on the other side of the lake.

Plain Jane Glider

The number of Likes and comments on this article when I re-shared it to Facebook absolutely amazes me. Interest in model aviation by the youth in the United States appears to really have declined over the years although many people like myself try to revive it. From what I see on the Internet the largest concentration of youth interested in model airplanes are in Indonesia, Russia, and Romania. Why that is I don’t really know.

I would like to share some of the comments regarding my re-sharing this article.

AB - Loved it    
B W - That's a fancy one, lots of fun and exercise!   
RM - Balsa wood glider. One of my favorite toys as a kid.    
BVW - Are those still around?   
JT -  I would buy 3 balsa gliders at a time, using only 1 fuselage and extend the wings and horizontal by gluing the surface areas of 2 planes onto 1 over lapping the panels gave it poly and dihedral. They would do really well off slopes in mild conditions. SH - Couldn't wait to get home to put it together and fly away with my 2 brothers.
ST -  oh i loved these! I had the rubber band powered ones too!
CT -  I seem to remember a fancy version with folding wings for catapult launching.
BS - I had so many I used to bug my parents every time we went to the dime stores.
CB -  It gave a lot of fun for the money!
RW - .10 cents and hours of fun experimenting with wing location for sustained flight, adding weight to the nose for distance!!
CT - I had a couple dozen of those.
BC - I flew its predecessor, the Martin B-10 glider by Jim Walker. I'm 83.
DM - I remember flying those for hours outside what fun we had. Wish my grandkids had these to play with instead of all those electronic things.

Bill Kuhl


Friday, May 22, 2015

Bad Day of Fishing Beats Good Day at Work

Isn’t there a slogan about a bad day of fishing beats a good day at work? I like my job and it wasn’t really a bad day of fishing on my recent trout fishing outing to the stream near the Crystal Springs Hatchery. Unlike fishing there in the past I never actually caught a trout on this day. I had one small trout hooked and it leaped from the water throwing the lure, something that really is cool to see. A few trout had followed the lure close enough for me to see them.  I remember one evening of fishing this same stream several years ago when there must have been at least two dozen fish that had chased my lure, sometimes a couple of fish at the same time and I actually caught some of those trout. 

Catching fish is only a small part of what makes trout fishing enjoyable; there is the splendid scenery, the sound of the water over the rocks, and the challenge of walking through nature’s obstacle course. I felt I did good not to fall down any banks, get stuck in the soft bottom and only trip over one log in the tall grass. The only problem I had was my hip waders are leaking, for some reason about a year of fishing and this happens. To compound to this after getting the wet waders off when I sat down in my car I heard a faint noise, it was my pants ripping.

When I returned to my car there were a husband and wife getting ready to fish. They had come all the way from central Wisconsin and had fished here for many years while camping at a nearby campground. We swapped stories about how it was so much better in the past but also admitted there are days when the fish do not want to bite on anything. If you have been trout fishing for a number of years it is obvious that the water level is lower and many of the deep holes are not near as deep now. I could tell like me, they really enjoyed walking the streams.

Lunch was at a small cafĂ© in a small town on the way back home. I ate at the counter and one of the local regulars began talking to me almost immediately. He had done some fishing in his day when the streams were really full of fish. He had lived in Winona also and talked about the railroad and the hobos that were looking for a free meal.  Back then he said people were so poor they had to catch fish to have enough to eat, I am glad I didn’t have to depend on my catch for lunch.

Satisfied I had a good day goofing off, it was easier to get some work done around my house when I returned. Just before dark I thought I would just try fishing a new spot for me along Lake Winona which is only a few blocks from my house. After about four casts from shore I felt a really solid tug, as I reeled in the fish it looked too skinny to be a largemouth bass, it was a small northern pike. Now I didn’t have my forceps along and a couple of hooks were deep in the mouth. Northern pike have teeth and will bite given the chance, somehow I managed to get the hooks out and release the fish.  

Bill Kuhl

Crystal Springs Hatchery Website

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Flying F3K Contest - RC Discus Launch

Almost two weeks have past now since I competed in a F3K radio control glider contest. This is for gliders that are limited to 60” wingspan and are launched by swinging the glider by one wingtip and releasing. In many years past the same size gliders were thrown with an overhand throw which was more work and didn’t get the glider as high. At that time many of the gliders were just rudder and elevator control, now most all the gliders have huge ailerons that also function as flaps. The cost of a really competitive glider has really gone up as well. I flew a Hyper DL which does have ailerons but not setup for flaps, it is rather heavy also.

The smaller gliders that you launch without using a hi-start or winch lend to a different type of competition. It is now possible to catch the glider and throw it again very quickly. With each of the different rounds of the competition different tasks are flown.  These tasks require that you combine flying skills with strategy and time management because the total time allotted is limited and the number of throws you are allowed can be also.  Some tasks you need to reach a target time, if you do not reach this time and make additional launches to reach the target time those flights are subtracting from the total time available. 

To increase the time aloft first it really helps to launch the glider as high as possible; the launch goes pretty much straight up and quickly flattens out at the top of the launch. With higher altitude it should take longer to come down and increase the chance of catching a thermal air current strong enough to climb in.  Another big challenge is created because there is wind and the glider must land within the boundaries specified as the field or you lose points.  Thermal air currents normally drift with the wind so you keep your glider circling downwind in the thermal but if the glider is not high enough downwind to penetrate the wind coming back to the field you will lose points and waste time retrieving your glider. If you can catch a thermal upwind, that is ideal but that can be hard to do at times.

This might seem rather complicated but after you fly a couple of rounds it all starts to make sense. It really keeps you busy because you are either flying or timing for another pilot. As the timer you try to give clues where other gliders are finding thermals and update on the time situation. It is all very fun and teaches you so much about flying a radio control sailplane.

Bill Kuhl

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hiss and Boink RC Sailplane Contest

After almost getting out of the radio control sailplane loop in some recent years I am again making a greater effort to participate including some contest flying. The previous weekend I flew in a F3K contest which is RC discus launch gliders and this past weekend I flew with our local group following a format that is known as “Hiss and Boink” which has a 4 minute maximum flight duration and a landing along a 20 foot rope with a perpendicular rope jutting from one side. Considering the weather conditions it didn’t look favorable for even flying. It had rained earlier that same morning with many wet spots left in the field, the wind was coming up. We have a backup plan for flying slope but everyone wanted to fly a thermal event.

Everyone launched from the same small electric winch, some of us had little experience with using a winch including me.  I should have practiced first but instead was flying my Whipit. On my first contest launch I popped off the winch and was down in 19 seconds, and wasn’t anywhere near the landing tape. Most of us were flying wood 2 meter sailplanes that were not penetrating very well and were hard to control on landing.

Looks Like a Boink

Might be a Hiss

Flaps Down

On another round I got the hang of launching with the winch and my Gentle Lady sailplane came off right into an area of lift. The wind was so strong that my glider barely moved ahead but I kept it either going straight or went sideways to the wind but never did I let the glider head downwind. I had seen someone do this the week before at the discus launch contest. As the 4 minutes was approaching I made a couple of tight circles and the glider came down in a hurry but the landing was nowhere near the rope. On another flight the wind let up just a bit and I was able to get my glider positioned on a straight approach; that is a big part of a good – hiss landing.  With some minor corrections I was able to slide it right along the rope.  Everyone was impressed but I think there was a whole lot of luck in my landing.  

My Lucky Landing

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Winona Tour Boat Review

Going for a boat ride on the Mississippi River by Winona Minnesota is always a pleasant experience but going for a guided boat tour on the Winona Tour Boat takes the river experience to a whole new level. On a recent spring evening I took the 1 ½ hour sightseeing tour which left the Winona Levee promptly at 6:00 p.m. and headed upriver. Our captain Aaron Ripinski has a knowledge of all things in and round the river in this section of the river better than about anyone I know. 

The boat is a very large pontoon boat with a very spacious cabin area and a small open deck in front. To learn more about the boat be sure to check out the Winona Tour Boat website. I was impressed how quiet and smooth the ride was. 

After leaving the new dock at the Winona Levee Aaron began with some basic nautical terminology so he could explain which side of the boat to look out of.  He gave some background into the river navigation system including the lock and dam system. As we were leaving there was a huge barge going up the river. One thing I didn’t know about this section of the river is there is a delivery service to the barges to get supplies to the barges.

The next point of interest was the new bridge that is being built next to the current bridge. I found out that it is actually proceeding ahead of schedule and under budget!  This bridge will not be as tall as the present bridge but doesn’t need to be as the excursion boats that come up the river are now designed with smoke stacks that lower when going under bridges.

Probably the big highlight of the trip was to get close to a giant eagle’s nest, hearing the young eagles, and see an adult eagle flying around the nest. The eagles in this area make this their home and chances are very good on every trip of seeing bald eagles.

I could go on for a very long time telling about all I learned in this cruise. My first thought is that every student in the area needs to go on this cruise to learn about the history and biology of this region. It is my understanding there are cruises that head down the river and go more into the backwaters so I would like to check this out also.

Student Group Pictures

Bill Kuhl

Important Links

Monday, May 11, 2015

Whipit Good - Micro RC DLG Review

As luck would have it I got a call from my favorite hobby shop Everything Hobby in Rochester MN last Friday that the UMX Whip It glider was in; actually I had forgotten I had put one on order. The real luck was the next day I flew in a discus launch contest and the weather was beautiful giving me a chance to fly the Whip It which is a micro discus launch glider after the contest.  “Whip It” is a great name for this little glider which brings up memories of the 1980 rock song by that wacky group Devo. 

Assembly is just screwing in four screws through the wing into the fuselage, I suggest using a good Phillip’s screwdriver as the screws go in rather hard to start with. Just one single cell lipo 150 mah battery like used in many other small aircraft is used to power the radio. The battery is covered up by a slip-on nosecone, make sure it is pressed on tight as it came off on launch for me once. 

I know the big question is how well does it fly, I think it flies very well but it is what it is because of the physics. With a 24” wingspan and only 82 square inches of wing area it is not going to perform like a glider with over 300 square inches of area. With a weight of only 1.53 ounces the wing loading is low but the smaller wing is not as efficient as a larger one.  It did launch fairly high for me and after maybe 20 throws I did launch into a thermal and began circling the Whip It skyward. The problem then is if there is any breeze it will be tough penetrating against it.  To me the real beauty of this and the UMX Radian is that you can go to the local park and fly when the conditions are good instead of travelling to a larger field. For a glider that comes ready to fly at $70, I think it is a heck of a bargain.

The next day the wind was blowing really hard and I just happened to drive by a small slope that I had my eye on for a while. Not sure what the actual wind speed was but forecast was for gusts up to 25 mph, I think it might have been blowing around 15 mph. Really too much wind but I wanted to try slope flying my new toy.  It did pretty good, one gust blew it into a tiny tree and the stabilizer broke loose, to me it looked like maybe not enough adhesive had been used at the factory.

Back in my workshop I glued it on with epoxy as sometimes foam-safe CA will attack some foams, at least it did on my Radian UMX. Later in the afternoon the wind appeared to be slowing down so I went to another really small slope. The wind was only coming straight in part of the time but when it did the Whip It flew great.  There are some small trees at the base of this slope but this little glider will turn on a dime.  Happy that I didn’t stick it in another small tree I called it enough. 

The question probably remains if this is a good way to introduce someone to RC discus launch gliders. I think someone could learn the basics without much financial investment and no building time. Fly over tall grass and the glider would be pretty hard to break. Catching thermals and circling upwards could be pretty tough for a beginner. I am awaiting the opinions from other people.

New Pictures Added 5-18-2015

Bill Kuhl


Whip It Video on YouTube by Devo

Product Description

Check Out :     My Small Slope Soaring Webpage

New Video of  Launching Whipit