The latest Project Air maiden flight on Youtube:
You know, we shouldn't underestimate the challenge of getting something to fly. It's difficult. As a species, we have only learned to fly with heavier-than-air machines for little over 110 years. That's really a tiny drop in the ocean.
Today anyone can defeat gravity with a wave of a credit card. Just look at all those commercially available drones and helicopters lining the shelves. It's easy. It's buy and fly. It's for everyone (which isn't a bad thing). They don't look like this anymore though (de Bothezat helicopter):
But, there are those of us in this community especially who do things slightly differently: we make things. Here are some personal tips for you to make your own battle with gravity a little easier. Even if it's a Ready-to-Fly (RTF) you are nervous to get in the air, this article should help you take the right steps towards getting in the air, and more importantly, staying there.
Take your time on the day. It's easy to get flustered and rush.
It's the same as what you do with general aviation - you go through things one by one. With RC, what I like to do is prepare everything when I'm in the warmth and comfort of my own home. I pack a bag with batteries, my transmitter, and spare parts/emergency tape to ensure everything is there and to hand at the field. When I'm there, I slowly set out my things and turn everything on one by one. This is so important for a maiden flight as all you want to worry about is flying the plane. Putting your mind at ease beforehand is a great way to focus on this.
Check your servos. Check your motor mount. Check your linkages and the settings on your transmitter. Double check your CG (center of gravity). Everything matters and it only takes one link to fail to bring the whole plane down in a ball of flames (okay - maybe not the flames part). If lists are your thing, consider making a checklist. Log books are also useful. Here's mine.
Always glide test
I used to think that I wouldn't bother as I knew it would fly better with power. This isn't a great situation to be in. You should always feel that the plane will fly fine without power. A glide test over long grass is a great way to iron out problems before opening up the throttle and going for it.
Stop caring for your aircraft.
Another way of saying this is 'prepare to crash'. If something goes wrong and the maiden flight is a failure, it's a real shame, but it is just a plane at the end of the day.
If building your own plane, especially from scratch, you seriously don't need to build it well if it is in anyway experimental. Don't bother painting it. Just slap something together and see if it works. If it ends up in the bin, you'll thank yourself. You can always improve it later or build another one!
Also, remember that dents and bruises are bound to happen over time. It's a working machine. Fly it like you stole it and have fun. Forget about the work you put into building it or the cost, it'll only take something away from your experience.
Learn from it.
If something went wrong, learn what. It will mean next time there is less that can go wrong. Treat it as an opportunity to discover new knowledge that will help you in the future. As an example, I recently discovered that small, chubby planes are super unstable. The next plane I made was quite the opposite, a large motor glider with thin wings. Built for stability, it worked perfectly and flew like a charm. Take what you learn and apply it to your next projects for success.
If you have any further pieces of advice, please do comment on this article to share your knowledge and experience with the community!
Remember this - flying isn't easy, but isn't it wonderful that, as Louis Bleriot said:
'The most beautiful dream that has haunted the heart of man since Icarus is today a reality'.
I hope you enjoyed this article and took something away from it. Check out my Youtube channel for more content every week!