Well that didn't take long did it? Actually it wasn't a full sized aircraft. Before the runway was completed, and on a Sunday morning while the airport was still closed to air traffic, I took my brand new, five foot wingspan, P-51 Mustang radio controlled plane up there to give it, it's initial trial by fire. This plane is a 1/5 scale version of the venerable fighter escort plane from WWII. It was the plane that made it feasible to shadow the bombers all the way to the heart of Germany and give them protection all the way in and back home. It was used almost exclusively by the Army Air Force at the time.
It took me a long time to lower myself far enough to build an Air Farce(just kidding) plane after being an old Navy guy for 20 years, but, what the heck, I'd run out of Navy A/C to model. Besides, this is one fine looking plane in anybodies estimation.
So off I go with all the necessary equipment needed to get one of these babies in the air. Big battery and starter to get it cranking over, big portable air tank to fill the small air tank inside the fuselage, this to make the retractable landing gear operate,fuel cans and pumps,a fully charged radio system, Tx. and Rx. First off I have to attach the wing to the fuse which is done by two 1/4 nylon bolts. Then it is charge the air tank and then fill the fuel tanks. Lots of tank stuff with this plane! Now it's time to take a few pictures of this baby before engine start. After the photo op was complete, there was no way to delay this any further. Turn on the Tx. and then the Rx. Run all the control surfaces through their complete range on high and low rates. Yup they all work fine, throttle also. Okay, pull the prop thru a few turns, crack the throttle, apply the heat to the glow plug, push the starter against the prop spinner and press the switch. It only took about ten seconds of cranking for that OS MAX 1.20 four stroke engine to fire and settle right into a nice idle. Run the engine up to full power and set the needle valve for high and low operation, run the flight control surfaces through their full range of motion again and it is time to go. She is sitting right on the centerline of the runway, so with a smooth steady push to full power and a little rudder to keep her straight down the runway, off we go. After about 15 feet the tail comes up and I let her build up a good head of steam before I gently rotate her into the air. Damn, this thing flies like a dream! A climbing left turn to keep her in close so I can see what it is doing, and I am at about 50 feet altitude with the gear still down, 'cause I'm afraid to let go of any levers just yet to flip a switch! Just as I turn town wind and get level, it becomes deathly silent up there in the air next to my beautiful bird! As in a real plane, when that fan out on the front of the plane stops generating a breeze, the hard sweats immediately start behind the controls! Same thing here. What to do? Try to put it back on the runway is the first thought, but realize that I don't have enough speed or altitude to stretch out the glide. This thing is heavy too! It weighs about 15-18 pounds when fully loaded. So the only option is to push the nose over to see if I can generate a little airspeed, but this thing flies like a brick when all forward motion is suspended. When I pushed the nose over, it used up all my altitude in about 2 seconds, and my hard flare didn't do much to arrest or even soften it's contact with the ground. She plowed into the ground, thankfully about a foot of soft wet mud, and snapped off both of the extended landing gear and buried the engine up to the back of the crankcase! Twas actually a spectacular landing! Kind of like some of Herman's!
After wading thru the mud and retrieving all the various and sundry pieces, it was determined that actually very minimal damage was done to the wing structure and that it could and would be repaired rather easily. Which it has been as of this writing. Just waiting for new decals to arrive before flight number two.
So I am claiming the rights to the title of, first takeoff, first landing(close but not on), and first aircraft incident(read, crash) on the newly refurbished BI Airport. Also the second of each category as I flew an electric powered Islander around for one flight also.
Oh yeah, why did the engine quit you may ask? Well after getting her home and all the mud dug out of the airframe and in the engine room, I discovered that the fuel line from the fuel tank to the fuel pump on the back of the engine had come off. No gas, no go, no fly, result? CRASH!! Oh well, off again very soon I hope! TIFN
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