USAF Thunderbirds themed FT-22 build.

by makattack | February 17, 2014 | (0) Posted in Tips

I'm fairly new to the hobby, having only started flying in the Fall of 2013 with the HobbyZone Delta Ray. That was a great platform to learn to fly on my own. When I was growing up, one of my passions was model building. I had built up a small fleet of plastic planes, tanks, ships, cars, and space craft. I had also dabbled with remote line modeling and built a balsa and tissue free flight/rubber band powered plane.

Well, this marks my first ever RC "scratch" build -- I put it in quotes because I ordered the speed build kit and Lazertoys power package:

The build was fun and a great learning experience for me. I had never handled hot glue before, nor this type of foam board, so it was all new to me. Learning about and connecting the electronics was also a new experience. I decided to get all fancy with the graphics, and lacking any artistic ability, went with vinyl decals. A mix of FliteTest (for the canopy) and Calli Graphics (for the USAF Thunderbirds style) decals.

Here's the end result:

I like that the Thunderbird graphics makes for a unique, stripped Red, White and Blue top surface.

With a distinctive "wing" look for the bottom with the Native American Thunderbird graphic.

I actually maidened this plane this past weekend, before the vinyl graphics arrived because I just got impatient and a small flying window of opportunity opened before more snow hit the area. All the snow that was already on the ground had frozen to a crusty ice, so I figured water damage risk was lower. During that beautiful flight, I learned how great this plane handles and how durable it was due to a "nose in" incident with the ground. This happened on the very first flight, when I realized I wasn't hearing the TX timer counting down, and momentarily took my eyes off the plane in-flight, to look down at the TX. Ooops, it rolled onto it's back and headed straight down. I was able to recover slightly by chopping throttle and pulling back. The nose touched ground with a glancing blow which only caused a few creases in the foam.

Phew. A relaunch and short flight followed by a nice soft landing was my consolation for the newbie mistake.

I returned home to find a tube from Callie Graphics waiting for me to fancy up this build. Perfect timing, actually, as I had noticed that the mostly white fuselage with black canopy and orange prop. made for a slightly challenging flying situation against the snow-white backdrop of my flying field.

I just wanted to post this from a stock beginner point of view. Here's a summary of my lessons learned:

  • Patience is a virtue when building. I got too impatient with building, so I didn't properly follow directions and got myself into a few awkward positions during the build and initial flight. I had watched the build video once, and thought it sufficient, but I should have had it nearby and handy.
    • When mounting the control horns and push rods, I glued the control horns on before threading the push rods through the EZ Justers on the servo arms. I had to awkardly bend them into place after the fact.
    • I didn't pay attention to the video where Josh B talks about mounting the motor with the grub screw facing up. I hadn't even known that's how the motor is secured to the mount. I had to redo the mounting to the firewall when I finally figured out how to secure the motor.
    • Forgot some of the build tips about which surfaces to glue, and how to best do so. It still worked, but she's not the prettiest one in the barn.
  • Patience is a virtue when flying. I got too impatient with flying my newly built F-22, so I went out while the ground was still covered with frozen H2O and forgot the following:
    • Forgot to bring my Mobius to document the first flight
    • Forgot to range check my newly built F-22 with AR400 RX, until I had already launched it, and thought "oh, better keep it close."
    • Forgot that flying a white airplane against white snow and a dawn Sun makes for a visually challenging flight.
    • Forgot to turn on the timer, so I got distracted and took my eyes off the plane.
    • Forgot to land the plane instead of taking my eyes off the plane in-flight to look at my TX.

All in all, this was a great experience, where I learned a lot and had to re-learn a lot. Thanks to FliteTest, Lazertoys, and Callie Graphics for such great products that help a new hobbiest be successful despite his own tendencies towards self-destruction! I still have some general questions that I just have to figure out myself, such as how to measure the recommended control surfaces deflection (specifically, what the origin should be based on) and how to best water proof these foam boards without messy minwax or covering it with heavy tape.

I've since seen the Snowball video and used Tectron Water Repellant spray along with hot glue on the edges to help with water resistance. I made a short video of flights over snow:

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Strix on March 5, 2014
Nice plane. Good job!
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#3 on March 6, 2014
looks very good with the Graphics better put that one on the shelf, and build one that is not so fancy to fly
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#3 on March 6, 2014
did you use the tectron water repellant and did the graphics stick good to it
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makattack on March 7, 2014
I used the Tectron spray after all the graphics were applied. I had to cut into the base plate to re-bind the RX recently, and reposition the long antenna on the AR400, and noticed that packing tape definitely doesn't stick well anymore. I used some contact glue to help with that. Yeah, it's almost too good looking to fly, but it actually looks even better in the air! The nice thing about Callie Graphics is that it wasn't too expensive. I paid $45 for two sets of different decals to go on two aircraft: FT-22 and VersaWing.
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NoUsername on March 8, 2014
Love the graphics, nice job.

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sailorJohn on March 12, 2014
Is it just me,or are other people having trouble watching videos . I have had to enter special codes to see this video and even to watch one of my own. Youtube is making it harder to enjoy downloads to
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makattack on March 13, 2014
I think Google had a temporary glitch yesterday...
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USAF Thunderbirds themed FT-22 build.