I would be remiss if I didn’t bring to your attention that two members of our Control Line (CL) Aerobatics fraternity were inducted into the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014. Allen Brickhaus, about whom much has been written throughout the past year since his passing, and the legendary Steve Wooley, were the two inductees from our ranks. Each is deserving of this high honor.
Allen’s myriad contributions to the modeling community, his expertise in model design, and his many published articles and columns, have firmly etched his place in CL Stunt history. It is difficult to believe that he is no longer with us.
Steve Wooley may be an unfamiliar name to those of you who have come into this hobby/sport in the past 25 or so years. Steve was one of the brightest lights in our event in the 1960s. His flying abilities and his sleek, high-performance model designs, although short-lived, left an indelible mark on our event. Steve’s Argus and Cobra designs are still among the most popular designs at Classic Stunt events.
Steve was killed in an auto racing event in 1971, but those of us who were fortunate enough to have seen him fly and see his models up close will never forget him. Steve made a powerful impact.
Our community owes a debt of thanks to AMA District III Vice President Mark Radcliff for nominating Steve to the Hall of Fame. The following is an excerpt from a letter that Mark wrote to David Fitzgerald, who was searching for information about Steve for the Precision Aerobatics Model Pilots Association (PAMPA) website:
“As a youngster, Steve and my dad flew together. Steve would come to our house in the early to mid-1960s and, as a 7 to 13 year old, I would tag along with my dad and Steve [to] watch them fly mostly my dad’s RC airplanes. I always admired Steve because he traveled the world with model airplanes.
“As I got older, I became involved in RC and learned to fly Pattern. Steve was beginning to get interested in Pattern and I was looking forward to the day we could fly together and go to contests, etc. Sadly, that day never came because Steve was tragically killed in an auto racing accident. Steve’s larger-than-life image always stayed with me and I always used Steve’s image as an example of what a world-class competition flier should be.
“Long story short, I went on to be on [the] United States RC F3A Aerobatic teams in 1975, ’77, ’79, and ’81. As a team, we won first place [with] every team I was on and individually I was third in the Worlds [World Championships] in South Africa in 1979. In all this, Steve’s image was in my mind. That image has never left me, and that is why I nominated Steve for the Hall of Fame.”
I’m certain that I speak for the entire CL Stunt community in thanking Mark for nominating Steve. Thanks also to John Brodak for his nomination of Allen Brickhaus. Nicely done.
The first aerobatic maneuver that most fledgling CL Stunt fliers attempt is a loop. Usually, instead of a loop, they accidentally perform a “Figure 9.” Ouch!
Loops are simple to make, but, as with all aerobatic maneuvers, there are lessons to be learned in order to fly high-scoring loops in competition. Let’s start with the AMA rule book description of the inside loop, and take a look at the graphic of this maneuver.
[Please insert the AMA Rule Book graphic for the Inside Loop maneuver here.]
13.3. Consecutive Inside Loops
(Three required.) Correct loops are judged when the model starts from normal flight level and makes a series of three (3) smooth, round loops, all in the same place with the bottoms of the loops at normal flight level and the tops of the loops with the line(s) at 45° elevation. The model then continues for another half loop, recovering inverted and descending to normal flight level, flying two (2) laps before being judged for inverted flight.
Maximum 40 points. Minimum 10 points.
Errors: Loops are rough and irregular (i.e., egg-shaped, hexagonal, etc.). Bottoms of loops are not at 1.2 - 1.8 meters (3.9-5.9 feet) height. Tops of loops vary more than 0.6 meter (2 feet), plus or minus, of the 45° elevation point. Second and third loops vary more than 0.6 meter (2 feet) from the path of the first loop.
If you are trying to learn this maneuver, you will not be making three consecutive loops in the beginning. Try performing one loop per lap, or even one every second, third, or fourth lap, as you feel ready. I recommend not starting your first loops at the prescribed 4- to 6-foot level flight altitude. Give yourself extra room.
Induce some up or top control and the airplane will begin to make its upward arc. The tendency for first-time and/or low-time “loopers” is to add more up or top control as the model passes through the top of the loop and begins to descend on the back side of the loop circle. If you add more control at this point, the loop will tighten and the model might lose speed and stall.
If you do make it through the first loop with the model in this low-speed condition, the next loop will not be able to be performed properly, and the model will almost certainly stall. Remember the three rules of flight:
1. Maintain airspeed.
2. Maintain airspeed.
3. Maintain airspeed!
Try to scribe a constant-diameter loop, ending the loop at the bottom at the exact point where it started. Practice this until you can concentrate only on the maneuver’s shape without focusing hard on the model.
Start the loop downwind. Some recommend starting the loops into the wind. The thought is that if it is moderately windy, the headwind will slow the model as it descends and allow better placement of the bottom of the loop.
This is a bad habit to get into. The judges might (and usually will) deduct points if they see a pilot doing this. The judges cannot get a good look at the shape of the maneuver if it is skewed into the wind. Remember, the judges will (or should) be stationed dead upwind. This practice also signals that the pilot is insecure and inexperienced.
Even in heavy wind, start the loops at the dead downwind point. In severe wind this starting point will tend to make the model accelerate as it goes through the loops. Just hang on and fly the maneuver. Make the model go where you want it to go!
Practice no more than four or five single inside loops per flight until you get the hang of flying a smooth shape without stalling. If you do too many inside loops without unwinding the lines with an equal number of outside loops, the controls will soon become stiff because of the excess twists.
Before you go to the field to begin practicing this maneuver, do the “dry flying” exercise that I explained in my May 2014 column. Becoming accustomed to scribing the shape of the maneuver with your extended arm will aid you in not overcontrolling and stalling the model.
Next time I’ll discuss consecutive loops, sizes, bottoms, and the exit path toward the next maneuver.
Till then, fly Stunt!